TO be successful in photographing birds, the first requirement is a love for birds. In addition some photographic ability and considerable patience are needed. A plate camera, the Premo No. 9, was used in securing most of the accompanying photographs. For some phases of the work a reflex camera is of great advantage.
The photographer proceeds in the taking of his bird pictures largely according to the particular circumstances which confront him. He may set out to get the game on the nest, at the feeding ground, resting on a bough, or flying. Generally, the easiest photograph is obtained at the nest. Begin with the nests near the ground, where the tripod can be used.
NEST OF LEAST FLYCATCHER. A LARGE AMOUNT OF PAPER IS WOVEN INTO IT
LEAST FLYCATCHER SHOWING THE FEATHERS ON THE HEAD ELEVATED IN THE FORM OF A CREST
LEAST FLYCATCHER AT NEST. IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH THE BIRD APPEARS WITHOUT A TRACE OF A CREST
YOUNG MARSH HAWKS
Set the camera up within three or four feet of the nest, preferably just before the time for the eggs to hatch. If, as most often happens, the old bird is frightened away from the nest during the process, a thread is attached so that the picture may be snapped from a distance of twenty or thirty feet or more. A few leaves placed so as to conceal the camera as much as possible may be necessary, when the birds are timid. The camera all set, the next thing is to find concealment in tall grass or behind a bush, from where the nest may be viewed and the thread pulled. The old bird is very reluctant to leave the eggs exposed during the period of a few days preceding the hatching, and at this crucial time will seldom cause one to wait long before she overcomes her fear and returns. The various poses of the bird as it alights at the nest, inspects the eggs, and, finally, tucking them skillfully under her, settles down to brood, offer opportunities for a series of photographs, valuable both from artistic and scientific standpoints.
The different degrees of timidness in species, as well as among individual birds draw on all the ingenuity one may have. There are certain localities that offer abundant possibilities in the bird field of photography. A lake with a reedy marsh adjoining furnishes the most excellent grounds for water birds, which are found nesting in such places in surprising numbers. Many of these species construct a floating nest of sticks and other debris, or place their nest on small clumps of earth. Others build in the rushes. Various species of blackbirds, rail, coot, bittern, the black tern, and others of the water fowl, may be found in early spring in domestic occupations within a short radius. The reflex camera can be used here with most success, and in catching the birds on the wing they are indispensable.
Bird pictures may also be taken successfully with a telephoto lens. Where it is possible, however, to get within close range, the results are generally more satisfactory, as there are numerous difficulties attending the hunting of birds with a telephoto outfit.
A BROWN THRASHER WHOSE ANXIETY FOR HER YOUNG FAMILY HAS OVERCOME HER NATURAL SHYNESS
THE MAGPIE IS A SCAVENGER AND GATHERS IN LARGE NUMBERS TO FEED AROUND SMALL SLAUGHTER-HOUSES IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE WEST. IT IS ABUNDANT IN THE LARGER VALLEYS OF UTAH, BEING SCATTERED MORE SPARINGLY IN THE FOOTHILLS
When the young are hatched, making pictures of various phases of their bringing up, the feeding, etc., is the most interesting of pastimes. An amount of patience and skill may be required to secure pictures with the birds in natural attitudes and free from alarm. By working with one nest day after day, and following up developments, gradually getting the birds accustomed to the camera, friendly relations, with profitable results to the photographer, may be established.