What Makes for Great Bird Photography?

As a professional photographer and nature photographer, people are always asking me to explain what makes for great bird photography. While there are some general principles, there are also many reasons unique to each situation in which you find a bird you want to photograph. For example, passerine (perching) birds tend to be easier to photograph compared to capturing flying bird images.

Sharing my Bird Photography Experiences

What I’d like to do with this blog is post one or two bird photographs and tell you why they make my heart soar higher than a bald eagle. I wish every photo I took thrilled me in the same way. As we all know, it doesn’t work that way, even in wildlife photography. While I could go on and on about each of the photographs as well as the bird that’s the subject of each photograph, it is my intention to be brief.

To kick off my new blog, I want to share some of my favorite bird photographs of this last year. While I started with Chicago photography, the year was filled with exciting sightings and shooting sessions both in my own backyard (magic hedge, Chicago Botanical Gardens) and around the world. Every time I look at one of these photographs, I feel that same excitement I had when I first pressed my finger on the shutter.

Chipping Sparrows

Let me start today with this shot of the chipping sparrows I photographed in my garden while bird watching in the Indiana Dunes. They are quite a pair. As I look at this picture, I try to imagine what the mother on the left was thinking about her juvenile on the right. And look at the background with so many lovely colors: peach, yellow, so many different shades of green and white. The birds are sitting on a branch with moss of different colors and textures. All these elements make my heart sing and this shows in my best wildlife photography.

Black-throated Green Warbler

I love this image of the black-throated green warbler. From the pose, it is likely that many an ornithologist would find it hard to identify, but for me, bird identification is not always the most important goal. What I love about this is the display of the purple feathers, the gorgeous play of yellow purple and green on a background gone black. Colorful birds stand out especially well on solid backgrounds.