When I saw the forecast for snow this past Saturday I immediately knew where I would be spending part of my day - at the Churchville Nature Center bird blind with my camera.
I come to this bird blind a few times throughout the year, but my favorite time is during snowfall. There are a few reasons for this. First, the birds are much more plentiful and active. Snowfall tends to attract the birds to the feeders, since natural food sources are covered by the snow. During warm, sunny weather I also find birds here, but it is hit or miss. They often disappear for 10 minutes at a time, so I have to wait longer to get good photo ops. Also, during winter there are no leaves interfering with my shots, which can be a big problem in the summer.
The last reason is that the resulting photos are much more interesting during a snowfall. Photos of birds with snow falling around them and landing on top of them are much more appealing to me than static shots of them sitting on branches. And for me I want my photos to be more about a technical representation of a bird species, but rather a vignette of the birds in their environment.
There are a few species of birds that dominate the population at this nature center: Cardinals (both male and female), sparrows, chickadees, titmouse (titmice?), and bluejays. You will also see the occasional woodpecker and nuthatch. And there are a few others that I don’t know the names of.
Female cardinals are one of my favorites to photograph. Their colors are fairly soft and even. Their feathers are light enough to show great detail. They sit long enough in one place to allow me to actually compose a photo rather than snap the shutter as fast as possible before the birds zip off to another spot. And they often exhibit interesting expressions – at least it seems they do.
Attached are a selection of photos that I made during my last visit. I was using my 150-500mm lens, but since you can get quite close to the birds (actually since you're in the blind the birds get close to you) you can get good photos with a quality 300mm lens. The great thing about the snow is that it tends to absorb noise, so any noise you make inside the blind is not noticed much by the birds, especially since they are very busy feeding.
I only spent about 45 minutes there, interrupted by a short visit by a talkative 3-year old whose noise the snow could NOT absorb, but I came away with some photos that I am very happy with.
If you are interested in photographing or just observing local bird species I recommend a trip to Churchville Nature center.
More Bird Photos: Photography by Matt Schrier