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How do you get close to birds without scaring them away?


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Zoom lenses, windows, bird feeders. Sometimes bird are more habituated to people at busy public parks so they don’t get scared as easily. Some parks near me you can put out your hand and the chickadees will land on you whether or not you have seed. Yet sometimes I can’t get the chickadees to even attempt to land on my hand in my yard even with seed. 
 

Waiting until the birds come to you also works. If you just sit outside, or stand in one spot for a while they sometimes won’t perceive you as that big of a threat or may simply not notice your presence. I would sit outside on a chair everyday for an hour or so in the summer and one day I had a house finch land on my head! Must of thought I was a statue or something. Lots of photographers invest in bird blinds as well, but I wouldn’t say that’s needed.  Sometimes it’s just luck as well. No way of telling if that bald eagle is gonna perch on the tree beside the path or across the river. 
 

It’s more or less a waiting game. Some species are easier than others.

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If the bird doesn’t want to be close to you, it’s not going to let you get close. As Aaron said, it’s a waiting game. I usually will get as close to the bird as I think it will let me before it starts to get agitated. Then, if it comes closer, great! If not, so be it! A good picture isn’t worth it if it hurts the bird. 
 

Example: This was gotten by sitting in a lawn chair five feet from my feeder for 30 minutes. 
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/283201701#_ga=2.73806171.833437689.1613746855-362103245.1592329863

Edited by Avery
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If you have feeders, it can depend on how hungry they are.  On colder days, they'll tolerate me being closer to the feeders than on warmer ones.  I've had them perch within three feet of me when I'm refilling the feeders.  That's not helpful for photography but you can get some great observations.

@Candydez12, did we ever find out what camera you're using?  I don't know what you're budget is but you can get a used FZ70 with great zoom for under $150, or a new FZ80 for under $300.

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@Charlie Spencer we got a almost brand new very expensive camera from a friend of ours for Christmas and we got it for less then 300 dollars! It is a Canon EOS Rebel T5. My dad said they are worth a lot of money. I have a huge zoom lens so (unless I want to get bird pictures from more further away) I am getting good pictures. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

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On 2/19/2021 at 6:06 PM, Avery said:

If the bird doesn’t want to be close to you, it’s not going to let you get close. As Aaron said, it’s a waiting game. I usually will get as close to the bird as I think it will let me before it starts to get agitated. Then, if it comes closer, great! If not, so be it! A good picture isn’t worth it if it hurts the bird. 
 

Example: This was gotten by sitting in a lawn chair five feet from my feeder for 30 minutes. 
https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/283201701#_ga=2.73806171.833437689.1613746855-362103245.1592329863

Great Picture! And thanks so much 🙂 

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12 hours ago, Candydez12 said:

@Charlie Spencer we got a almost brand new very expensive camera from a friend of ours for Christmas and we got it for less then 300 dollars! It is a Canon EOS Rebel T5. My dad said they are worth a lot of money. I have a huge zoom lens so (unless I want to get bird pictures from more further away) I am getting good pictures. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

How long is your lens?

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I know how frustrating it can be, especially if you're expecting to get closer shots.  I have found that some birds will come closer if I'm wearing sunglasses and/or a large-brimmed hat (to hide my eyes).  But sometimes the birds don't come or let you get close, just like sometimes you don't see the species you are looking for, so be patient and go birding often.  300mm, which is equal to 480mm on your crop sensor camera, is good.  Your camera is 18 megapixels, so you can crop a little.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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  • 4 months later...

Or Candydez12 you can do what I did and enjoy viewing them anywhere anytime!!

----

Hello all again from Tampa Florida.  I have an online backyard bird-feeder streaming live on Twitch+Youtube...Check it out sometime!

Top of the Feeder:
www.twitch.tv/birdsiviewcam

Bottom of the Feeder:
www.youtube.com/user/birdsiviewcam

 

 

BlueJ.jpg

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Believe it or not but sometimes it helps not to look at them as you approach. If they don't think you see them they don't worry about you as much. One thing I learned early also is to take that distant shot no matter what. Then get a little closer take another shot or two. Repeat again again if the bird stays. This not only insures you get something but it also acclimates the bird to your presents. I also agree with @Jefferson Shank that cars are great bird blinds.

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12 minutes ago, Clip said:

One thing I learned early also is to take that distant shot no matter what.  Then get a little closer take another shot or two.

If the purpose of your photo is to document what you're seeing, a mediocre but identifiable distant shot is better than no shot at all.  Get what you can immediately and then try to improve.

That's one of the trade-offs between birding and photography - are you after functional photos or artistic ones?  Sometimes birds just won't give you the time.

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9 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

If the purpose of your photo is to document what you're seeing, a mediocre but identifiable distant shot is better than no shot at all.  Get what you can immediately and then try to improve.

That's one of the trade-offs between birding and photography - are you after functional photos or artistic ones?  Sometimes birds just won't give you the time.

I do not consider myself a photographer. I'm a birder with a camera who gets a good photo once in awhile. But, the reason behind my suggestion is actually two fold. Document for sure is one but the other is that the birds are often less intimidated if you work your way to them which will afford you a better opportunity for that artistic shot. In other words, if you run up to the bird with only that artistic photo in mind you will scare way the bird for sure.

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5 hours ago, Clip said:

Believe it or not but sometimes it helps not to look at them as you approach. If they don't think you see them they don't worry about you as much. One thing I learned early also is to take that distant shot no matter what. Then get a little closer take another shot or two. Repeat again again if the bird stays. This not only insures you get something but it also acclimates the bird to your presents. I also agree with @Jefferson Shank that cars are great bird blinds.

I swear birds know if your paying attention to them!:classic_angry: 

Every morning when I go get the mail there is a male Painted Bunting singing, that I have to walk right by. So every morning(before my camera broke any way) I would take my camera with me, and he always flew off before I was close enough to get a decent photo. One morning I didn't take my camera with me, and that Painting Bunting just sat there on a fence post, singing like I wasn't there. It was perfect lighting, the sun had just come up I was in a great spot about 8 feet away. He never moved, he was still sitting there singing with I left.:classic_angry:

Edited by Kevin
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5 minutes ago, Kevin said:

I swear birds know if your paying attention to them!:classic_angry: Every morning when I go get the mail there is a male Painted Bunting singing, that I have to walk right by. So every morning(before my camera broke any way) I would take my camera with me, and he always flew off before I was close enough to get a decent photo. One morning I didn't take my camera with me and that Painting Bunting just sat there on a fence post singing like I wasn't there. It was perfect lighting, the sun had just come up I was in a great spot about 8 feet away. He never moved, he was still sitting there singing with I left.

Sorry that sucks! Don't look at it as you approach. It may help. When are you getting your new camera?

 

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1 minute ago, Clip said:

Sorry that sucks! Don't look at it as you approach. It may help. When are you getting your new camera?

 

When ever the come back in stock, which supposedly is going to be October.😭

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4 minutes ago, Kevin said:

When ever the come back in stock, which supposedly is going to be October.😭

Take my camera away and it's like losing an arm for me. 😭 Anything happens to this one I have a back up.

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5 minutes ago, Kevin said:

I swear birds know if your paying attention to them!:classic_angry: 

Every morning when I go get the mail there is a male Painted Bunting singing, that I have to walk right by. So every morning(before my camera broke any way) I would take my camera with me, and he always flew off before I was close enough to get a decent photo. One morning I didn't take my camera with me, and that Painting Bunting just sat there on a fence post, singing like I wasn't there. It was perfect lighting, the sun had just come up I was in a great spot about 8 feet away. He never moved, he was still sitting there singing with I left.:classic_angry:

Would any one like to guess who was gone a few minutes later when I had my camera?

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21 minutes ago, Kevin said:

Would any one like to guess who was gone a few minutes later when I had my camera?

I feel your pain but you have to shake it off.

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