How and Where to photograph Songbirds

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  By Julian Rad
How and Where to photograph Songbirds

Today we will focus on techniques for successful songbird-photography.

Songbirds actually can be found in almost every forest, where they can breed and find enough food, such as insects, berries or seeds. If you are lucky enough to own a garden, you will be able to spot many bird species. All you have to do is to create a songbird-friendly atmosphere. Creating a songbird habitat in your backyard you have to consider just four things:

Food, Water, Shelter and Nestboxes.

The best time to photograph songbirds is in the winter, when there are fewer insects and other food resources for songbirds because then you have the opportunity to build up a bird feeder for the songbirds.
A bird feeder is the best and most effective way to attract songbirds to your planned shooting spots.

Bird feeders can be bought in every pet supply store, or if you are endowed with manual skills you can build up your own bird feeder. After you got your bird feeder, the next step will be to buy sunflower seeds and suet cakes, suet cakes contain nuts, fruits, oat flakes, mealworms and other insects – for them, it’s like enjoying a well-served food banquet.

It will not take much time till the first birds appear, probably after a week or so you have many bird species around your bird feeder such as blue tit, robin, coal tit, blackbird, woodpecker, jay, sparrow, nuthatches and many other songbird species. Maybe even a squirrel will also appear to get some seeds!


If you don’t own a backyard, you can look for a park or forest near your area and also just mount a bird feeder on a tree and wait for some days till the birds get used to the feeder. You will see, the songbirds will appear every day, just make sure you fill up the bird feeder when it’s empty.

If you are not sure how to build up a bird feeder or a nest box, this site gives you some ideas and instructions.

Besides the food you provide, another great way to attract birds is to build up a bird bath. Bird baths will be used not only in winter, also in summer on hot days, because birds need to drink and to cool themselves. Don’t forget to put some stones in your bird bath to provide the birds a surface to sit, bird baths should be only an inch or two deep; but for such purposes, any kind of tupper can be used.

Photographing birds while they bath will give you excellent action shots, the water droplets fly in all directions, the birds show their wings and if you are lucky, you maybe can even catch 2 birds on the same photo. It might also happen that not only songbirds will appear to take a bath, also sparrowhawks maybe visit your bird bath to have a drink.

Check out following youtube video to see how it looks like when songbirds take a bath.



When everything is set up for the birds, you have to make sure you use the right equipment.

So in order to get impressive songbird shots there are some essential things you will need for sure:

  • Hiding Tent (songbirds are usually very timid, so a hiding tent is a must)
  • – DSLR (use a crop camera, in order to get CLOSER to the small songbirds)
  • – Tele Lens (300 mm to 600 mm lenses with an image stabilizer work best)
  • – Tripod (use a tripod with a ball head in order to be flexible)
  • – Warm Clothes (if you decide to stay some hours in your hide, be sure to wear warm clothes, especially during winter time)
  • – Branches (prepare some beautiful branches where the birds can sit on)

Rotkehlchen (3)

One more important note you have to consider before you prepare everything to start photographing songbirds:
Cats kill about 1 BILLION birds each year, they are considered the most serious threat to songbird, so keep feeders, bird baths and nesting boxes out of their reach.

All in all, bird photography is really simple, it’s fun, and extremely rewarding if you do everything right. You can easily build up a portfolio after some sessions for advertising your work or either for your own personal delight.

Good luck & we hope you enjoyed this article!


All images by Julian Rad

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Julian Rad is a self-taught award-winning wildlife photographer, who was born in Vienna, Austria in 1991. When he bought his first camera at the age of 20, he found an expression for the fascination he had about nature & wildlife. He already had many publications in national and internation magazines and newspapers (New York Post, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Times, GEO, Digital Photographer Magazine...). He has won several photo competitions such as the comedy wildlife photography awards in 2015.

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