Birds in Flight

Photographing small birds in flight coming to a feeder has always defeated me in the past. I have a few poor results, but nothing exciting. The idea is simple enough. You put up one small feeder with a single perch attached for the birds to land on. A few feet away you have another perch and as the birds leave this to fly at the feeder you photograph them in-between.  Focus has to be done manually and even at 14 frames per second the bird is rarely in the frame. When it is it is usually out of focus. The failure rate is high and you have to take thousands to get a result, but others manage it better than me.

This winter I discovered a way to improve the odds of success. I cut a hole in a plastic disc and placed a Niger seed feeder into the hole on its side with the disc upright. The plastic was a colourful purple and as the birds flew at it to grab the sunflower hearts they were wary of it and hesitated. Often they would hover just inches from the disc, giving time to allow for autofocus to be used. Even those that flew straight at it were forced to come in square on else their wings would catch on the disc. I have had more success over two sessions than all previous winters combined.

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