Backyard Bird Photography Setup
Our house is located on a wooded hill surrounded by open fields; it's a quiet, private place for us as well as perfect habitat for diverse wildlife. Our closest neighbors include deer, turkeys, badgers, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and numerous avian species.
Bird feeders were set out soon after we moved in. Eventually, a birdbath and dripper were included.
My husband was kind enough to build a bird feeder pole for our yard. (I'm the only birder in our household.) He began by bolting two 2.5' treated 2X4s onto opposite sides of a 12' 4X4 treated post. Next the 4X4 post was buried leaving 8.5' above ground. Our previous feeder pole, which eventually rotted, had four 2X4s, but this one has only two, because feeders can also be hung from the sides of the top section. The top section is a square built out of treated 2X4s, with one board down the middle, with a screen attached over the top of the square. Once the 4X4 post is in the ground, the middle section of the square is bolted to a swivel that's mounted on top of the 4X4. (Hopefully, the photos will make up for the lack of a detailed description.)
My husband built this handy little tool to make it easier put bird seed on the top feeder. (He's always doing thoughtful things without having to be asked. I'm pretty lucky!)
A few years ago, I came across a shed deer antler in our backfield which we attached to the feeder pole as an additional perch.
A squirrel deterrent is a must, so we wrapped 6.5' of old stovepipe around the 4X4 and placed a commercial squirrel deterrent above it.
Squirrels are very agile and resourceful, and they're always looking for a way onto the feeder pole. A few of years ago, a couple of very athletic squirrels were able to jump the 6.5' required to reach the guard plate, and then climb on and have a feast. They'd also sail about 20' from overhanging branches onto the top of the feeder. Soooo I set out live traps and now the super squirrels reside elsewhere. So far, the current squirrel population has been happy with birdseed and corn that's on the ground. Deer, turkeys, chipmunks, and thirteen lined ground squirrels frequent the feeder area as well.
Suet cages are attached to the east side of the post to help keep the suet from melting in the mid-day sun. To make it easier for birds, the suet cages are attached just above the 2X4, enabling them to perch on it while eating. Suet attracts woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, nuthatches, blue jays, blackbirds, and other birds.
Grape jelly attracts orioles and catbirds. Orioles also share nectar feeders with hummingbirds. Sunflower seeds, mixed birdseed, and finch food are popular with most birds. Shelled corn is eaten by a few birds, but also provides nourishment for other critters feeding in the area.
The birdbath sits atop an old pine tree stump. To make it all look more natural, I piled weathered tree stumps and shale rocks around the stump. The small dead tree was set nearby to be used as a perch and photo prop.
There are a lot fancy birdbath drippers that can be purchased, but mine is just a garden hose wired to an old piece of pipe I found in our shed. It seems to attract birds, so I guess they don't care what it looks like. At times a male hummingbird will zip up and down alongside the stream of water coming from the hose.
Shrubs and perennials have been planted beside the birdbath, deer and rabbits help to keep them trimmed. Patches of black raspberry vines are growing all around the area, the berries are part of rose-breasted grosbeak's diet.
Some birds never eat at the feeder, they only stop at the birdbath for a drink or to bathe.
This is one-person photo blind with a built-in chair. Once the tripod and camera are setup and I'm inside, the front is partially closed leaving only the end of the lens visible. There are four mesh windows that can be covered by magnetic flaps. There's even a cup holder in the chair arm! This photo blind can be purchased for $100 or less.
This is the view from inside the blind; I'm using a Canon camera and 400mm lens.
Most birds are skittish and difficult to photograph. For me, it's more fun trying to get a quick shot of a bird while its perched on a branch, rather than photographing it on a feeder. Hours are spent in the photo blind during each photo session; sometimes no photos are taken and at other times it's a bonanza, though it's always entertaining to watch the interaction.
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