Approaching Birds

"Approach with caution!"

When you are approaching birds for bird photography, several things will give you away. Noise and movement are the most obvious but the simple outline of the human shape can also be considered as a predator to most birds (and rightfully so).

One of the most important things to remember when sneaking up on birds is to move slowly. Like a foot a minute slow.

Noise, caused by movement while approaching birds, can be easily lowered by paying attention to the way you walk. The normal way that a human walks is heal to toe, where the heel hits first and then the ball of the foot slaps down. The problem is that this is sloppy and noisy.

Roll your feet into position and remember to move slowly. Just lift your foot a few inches off the ground, move it forward, then put it down while keeping your weight on your back foot. When you are putting your foot down, touch it to the ground with the outside of your foot near the ball. Do this slowly just in case you feel something under your foot, perhaps a twig. If you do feel something like this, simply lift it again and place it somewhere else. When the outside edge is securely on the ground without obstructions under it, lower the heel. At this point, only the outside of your foot should be touching the ground. Now roll your foot to the inside. The last part of your foot to touch the ground should be the inside near the ball. Switch your weight to this foot and continue.

The easiest way not to show the outline of your body is to not let the animals see you. Do not just pop up from behind something without checking your surroundings. Your silhouette could be clear against the sky. Keep yourself low, using the trees and shrubs as cover. You may have to move while hunched down or squatting (don't worry, you'll get used to it). Remember, when you are half your height, you are twice as hard to see. Crawl if you have to (that's why washing machines were invented).

Make sure the sun is directly behind you so if the animal looks at you it will be blinded. Put a tree or a bush between you and the animal so it cannot see you as you approach. When you reach the tree or bush, stay low and come out from behind it. But when you step out, be ready to take the picture. Most likely it will take off after you do.

Remember, when you are trying to spot birds, movement gives them away. When you are sneaking up on birds, your movement gives you away.

This tip was provided by Scott Steeves.

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