When you’re learning wildlife photography or brushing up on techniques, birds are an excellent and accessible subject.
Most wildlife photographers will photograph a lot of birds. Especially when we’re learning new skills and techniques. Photographing birds can help improve our photography skills, they teach us to be patient and to anticipate.
Finding Birds to Photograph
Birding opportunities exist in all sorts of environments. Whether you live in the city or the country, you’ll be able to find birds to photograph. If you can put up a bird feeder that is visible from your window, you can bring your subject to you. Local parks, especially ones that contain a pond or lake, are also a great place for bird photography.
Check with your local conservation agency, fish and game department or Audobon Society for birding talk or walks in your area. These are usually free and can provide you with some insight on common species in your area.
When photographing any wildlife, it’s extremely helpful to know your subject. You learn when and where to look for them. You learn what behaviors to expect at certain times of the day or year. Unless you’re lucky enough to partner with a wildlife biologist, birding enthusiast or other specialist, it can be overwhelming when you get started – especially with wild bird photography.
using the Merlin BirdID app
Merlin BirdID is my secret weapon for identifying and learning about birds. Merlin BirdID is a free app that returns a list of possible birds – including images, call recordings, descriptions, and commonality. In the field (if you have service), you can enter some simple information – size, color, date, and location. Merlin BirdID returns a list of possible matches, complete with images, descriptions, and call recordings.
If you can’t make a successful field ID, you’ve got another chance to figure it out. With Merlin BirdID, you can upload a photo and get a short list of birds.
What’s really cool about Merlin BirdID, is that it is using citizen science, relying on over 500 million observations from the e-Bird citizen science project. As you get more comfortable identifying birds, consider contributing to e-Bird by submitting your observations. e-Bird encourages all levels of birders to submit data. Data is reviewed by local experts before being posted to the e-bird site.
When I started using the Merlin BirdID app, I found that I started seeing birds differently. I started “seeing” more birds and I’m able to pick up more details while observing them. So even when I don’t have my camera, I’ll use the app to ID a bird. I love that learning birds with the help of this app, helps spark my interest to learn more birds.