Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 15, 2009

Backyard Bird Photography

Filed under: backyard, Birds, style — Tags: , — richditch @ 6:57 pm
Inca Dove at backyard water feature

Inca Dove at backyard water feature

I don’t do much bird photography in my back yard: not because I have something against it, but because my wife thinks her insatiable appetite for plants and gardening takes priority over anything I’d want to do there. So, anytime I’d find a decent sight line for photography it would soon disappear when a new plant or basket or wind chime just had to be placed there.

So,  I will take photos on those rare occasions when I find an interesting composition in interesting light like this Inca Dove drinking at the water feature a few feet off our patio.

Inca Doves have this wonderful scaled look that comes from dark terminal banding on the feathers. Although we have many of them in the yard they are incredibly spooky, and mostly I don’t even bother with them anymore as they seem to spring away as soon as I touch the camera. For some reason this bird stayed put long enough for this full frame shot.

What makes the image for me is the three dimensional quality produced by the light and shadow, plus the understated browns and grays. I’m also intrigued by the overall shape of the dove and the look at the underside that we seldom get to see when they feed on the ground.

A lot of bird photographers go to great lengths to create set ups in their yards so they can have maximum control over their sessions. Perches are selected with care and placed near feeders that are used to bait the birds into position. Everything is placed to get mostly front lit subjects against a single color smooth background. I find this need to control the situation a bit disturbing as it takes away so much of the randomness of interaction with nature that I enjoy in my photography. It can also lead to a lack of variety in a photographer’s portfolio since each image looks pretty much the same as all the others – especially when the photographer doesn’t bother to change out the perch very often. Although I’ve seen many excellent bird photographs taken this way I’ve also seen a lot of cookie cutter results where the control has obliterated creativity.



  1. Great photo – I’d love to see more of the water feature.

    Comment by Owlman — January 17, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  2. Excellent shot. I have a water fountain similar to what yours looks like. I have found they will come to the running water before going to the bird baths. The funniest birds I have shot at the fountain were Hummingbirds bathing in the running water.

    Comment by Dan — January 20, 2009 @ 6:03 am

  3. Gorgeous!

    Comment by rosemary — December 23, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

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