props for backyard bird photography

Props for Backyard Bird Photography: Read This First

Thinking about taking photos of birds in your backyard? With the right props and techniques, your backyard will become an appealing spot for lots of bird species, so you can get close, watch them, and take as many photos as you want. So what are the best props for backyard bird photography?

As a matter of fact, if you’re a beginner photographer and interested in bird watching, taking photos in your backyard will be an excellent activity that helps you understand more about these beautiful creatures. You can experiment with different setups and take your time to attract the species that you find more interesting until you take photos that you feel proud of.

Getting ready and well-prepared will guarantee better results. In this article, we’ll list the essential props for backyard bird photography. Keep on reading to learn how to take backyard bird photos to impress everyone.

Props for Backyard Bird Photography

Creating the perfect setup for backyard bird photography is easy. You can arrange the elements of softscape and hardscape to make your backyard more inviting.

Props for Backyard Bird Photography: Choose the Location

Kingfisher looking to the left with beak in air while perching on the end of a branch during heavy rain

Before setting up the perfect spot to attract birds, you need to focus on the details that will help your photo pop. First, you need to study the light and shade in your backyard to choose the most suitable time for taking photos.

Bright sunlight will enhance the colors of the plumage and will make your photos look clear even if you’re not using artificial flash. Birds are most active early in the morning, so you need to make sure that your perch will be facing the east to have a brightly lit photo.

Author Note: Don’t set up your perch in the middle of the backyard next to lots of objects that might shift the focus away from the bird. A solid and simple background will make the bird’s details more noticeable.

You can add a few details like berries or branches to enhance the composition of the photo. If you can’t find a suitable background, you can use a piece of cloth or canvas as a backdrop.

Props for Backyard Bird Photography: Set Up the Perch

If you have enough space in your backyard, you can arrange branches and stems to make the spot more inviting for birds. Use man-made clamps to create a structure that appeals to birds, so they can perch and spend enough time for you to take a good photo. The clamps provide stability, so you can take multiple photos over several days.

Set up your camera after studying the direction of the sun, as more natural light will enhance the colors of the birds’ plumage. The spot should be facing the camera, so you can take as many photos as you can to choose the perfect ones at the end of the day.

The idea is to make the birds appear like they’re in their natural habitat. Songbirds appear more natural when they’re perching on smaller branches and vines. Woodpeckers appear more natural when they’re perching on bigger branches. To enhance colors, you can use berries, leaves, and flowers to complement the birds’ colors and make the photo more interesting.

Feeders and Birdbaths

A bird feeder or a birdbath will also attract the birds. However, birds perching on natural prop make your pictures look more professional and unique.

You can set up your DIY natural attraction spot next to the feeder or the bath and wait until the bird flies. Keep an eye on the birds for a few days, and you’ll learn where they’re more likely to land. Add more branches to increase the size of the perch if you want to attract bigger birds.

It’s essential not to confuse the birds by providing too many options. If the perch has too many natural elements like pebbles, branches, and twigs, you might have too many details in the photo. Remember that the bird should be the main focus of the photo.

If you want to take photos at multiple locations, you can take a log and drill holes in it. Fill the log with food that appeals to the species you want to attract. You can train the birds to land on this log, so you can take multiple photos over several days.

Props for Backyard Bird Photography: Make the Spot More Appealing

The birds will notice your spot, but if they find nothing interesting, they will fly away before you can take the photo that you want. This is why you need to study the birds and make sure that you’re providing the right type of food to attract them.

Jays, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, and Finches are attracted to black oil sunflower seeds. Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins prefer thistle. You can also attract ground-feeding birds like quails, while American sparrows prefer white proso millet.

Other birds like woodpeckers can be attracted to peanuts and suet. You can get a log and drill holes in it to fill them with the type of food that attracts your birds. Birds will perch to feed, and this will give you time to take enough photos of them.

Author Note: The chosen spot should also provide the birds with water. Picking a spot close to a birdbath or a garden pond will make it more appealing, especially in the summer.

Props for Backyard Bird Photography: Spend Time at the Correct Spot

Since you’re interested in bird watching, you need to know that patience and devotion will have a positive impact on your experience with birds. This is why you need to choose a comfortable spot where you can wait until the birds are comfortable, so you can take the photos that you want.

With enough training, birds can accept your presence in the backyard. If you provide food regularly, birds won’t feel alarmed when you’re around, and this will allow you to get closer to them.

However, it’s always recommended to stay concealed. This will encourage the shy birds and the newcomers to approach the porch and relax, so you can take as many photos as you want.

You can also wait inside the house. If you have a comfortable chair next to the window, you can set up your camera and point the lens towards the perch. If you are hiking, be sure to get a good pair of shoes for birding.

This is also a good option if you want to take photos of the birds perching on treetops, so you can go to the second floor to get a closer look. Shooting through the glass is possible, but the reflections can affect the quality of the photo.

Key Takeaway: Buy the Right Equipment

There are a lot of DSLR cameras that allow you to take amazing photos. Because you can adjust the timer to take multiple shots, you’ll end up with numerous photos that you can later check and edit. It’s also recommended to get a telephoto lens with a focal lens between 300mm and 400mm to enhance the details.

Set up the camera about 15 to 20 feet away from the perch and make sure that the lens is pointing towards the perch. A bigger focal lens will improve the quality of the photos.

You also need to invest in a high-quality tripod. It’s portable, so you can change the location of the tripod, and it allows you to aim the camera towards the perch as the sun moves in the sky throughout the day.

Although your camera comes with a flash and you’re taking photos in direct sunlight, an external flash will enhance the details and reduce the noise in the photo. An external flash also reduces the shadows, so you need to get a powerful one to guarantee the best illumination for your photos. You can get a Fresnel lens that focuses the flash away from the camera to illuminate a bird that is located at a long distance.

Camera Settings

Set up your tripod and camera at a comfortable height and increase the shutter speed as much as you can. Due to their small sizes and continuous movement, you need to increase the shutter speed to get a sharp image. A speed of at least 1/500 is recommended.

Author Note: An underexposed image will be too noisy and poor details. You can increase the ISO to prevent underexposure. An ISO between 1000 and 1600 will work for you.

The depth of field should be f/5.6 or f/7.1 to make sure that the bird isn’t out of focus. You can give your settings a try by taking a photo of the perch. Keep on changing the settings until you get a photo that you like.

Wrap Up

Your backyard is an excellent spot to take exceptional bird photos if you know how to set it up. You need to choose the perfect location and make it attractive to birds by providing perch materials that appear welcoming and inviting.

Moreover, there should be enough food in the perch or set it up close to a nearby feeder. You also need to make sure that the birds have easy access to water so they keep on visiting your backyard.

Make sure that you’ve chosen the right equipment to take professional photos and take multiple shots to see their quality. Keep on adjusting the settings until you have high-quality photos with clear and bright details.

Fly High friends!


Where can I record the birds I see in my backyard?

Every year Audubon runs a backyard bird count which is a great way to contribute the information about the birds in your backyard to a national study. You can find information here:
Alternatively, you can keep a record of your sightings on eBird:

How can I identify the birds in my backyard?

Most regions have a bird page on Facebook where you can ask local experts to help you identify a bird. It really becomes helpful then if you are taking photos as they are much easier to identify.

Do I really need a lot of camera gear to photograph birds in my backyard?

Nope. If you just want to record what you have seen and for it help identify the birds, then you can use the camera on your smartphone to photograph and video the birds in your backyard.

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