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How to Photograph Birds on a Nest

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 4/20/2011

Birds are beautiful creatures. But finding them can be hard. You can, however, often find one or two birds on a nest. Learn how photograph birds on a nest in this digital photography tutorial.

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    How to Photography Birds

    Photographing birds involves a little bit of luck and skill. But, you have a better chance of capturing a picture of birds if you scope out the bird’s nest. Usually at least one parent is near or at the nest at all times. So, how do you photograph birds on a nest?

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    Do Some Homework

    Bird on Nest Well, you first need to scope out the area where you plan on taking the photographs. Many birds go back to the same nests every year. So, you should communicate with locals about where they have seen the birds if you are new to the area.

    Scope out the area on Google Maps to narrow down your search area. Also, do a Google search for bird’s nest in the area that you are going to visit. Sometimes people post GPS coordinates for birds’ nests, which you can input into your phone or handheld GPS unit.

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    Gather Up Your Equipment

    Once you know where to look, it’s time to gather up your equipment. You definitely need a good telephoto lens. Go for something larger than 200 mm. You often have to zoom high into the trees, especially for birds of prey. You also need a tripod. Your photographs will look fuzzy if you try to hold the tripod steady without assistance. You may also need a lens support, which is a device that connects to the lens and goes over your neck.

    Invest in a carrying case. You are going to be hiking into the woods to find your birds, and your equipment is going to get heavy. But, you definitely need all of it.

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    Filters and Settings

    Once you have your equipment and know where you are going, it’s time to start considering taking your photographs. Pick what time you want to take your images. Remember that nature photographs often look the best either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If your only choice is during the middle of the day, bring some filters with you, especially polarizing or UV filters to reduce sun glare. Avoid using the flash if you can. It can spook the birds, and it also can wash out their natural color.

    Birds are going to stay in stationary for very long. So, you may do best to place your camera on the Action or Continuous shooting settings. This will speed up the shutter speed. If you capturing images in the evening, increase the ISO to at least 800 to let in more light.

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    Find a Clearing

    Find a place where you can setup your equipment without any obstructions. Then, you just have to have patience. You are probably going to spook the birds when you first show up. But, they should settle down the longer that you are there.

    Have patience, and take lots of photographs. Bring extra memory cards and batteries just in case. Take photographs in different seasons. Winter is really great for contrasts. And, just have fun.

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    Mims, Forrest. “Winter is the time to photograph bird nests”,