Through the Lens: Bird Photography

— by Gabby Salazar
Snow geese in flight
  Snow Geese at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, NC
  Credit: Gabby Salazar

Did you know that bird watching is an increasingly popular activity in the United States? When I am visiting local parks or National Wildlife Refuges, I always bring along a pair of binoculars and a camera. If you start to look closely at the birds, you will notice an amazing diversity of colors, shapes and sizes. Taking pictures of birds can be challenging, especially when the bird is flying, but it is possible if you follow a few simple tips.

  • Birds are most active early in the morning and later in the evening. Visit your local refuges at these times.
  • Try to find particular plants or trees that birds prefer – perhaps berries on one tree draw a certain species or an old stump is a perch for a hawk. Sit quietly near these areas with your camera and wait for the birds to come. Be patient!
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  • If you are driving in a car through the refuge, you can use the car as a hiding place to shield you from view and get closer to birds on the side of the road. Take images out of the car window while someone else drives.
  • Use the zoom feature on your digital camera or a long lens to make the bird appear larger in your photo.