Bird photography · Photography

Perches to attract backyard birds

If you are like me, you probably have a few backyard feeders and hoping to attract a few birds. If you are also someone who likes to photograph the bird visitors, you very quickly realize that the photos of birds taken on the feeders don’t look that visually appealing. For example this photo of a Black-headed Grosbeak on the feeder is not as appealing.

Black-headed grosbeak on the feeder

You may have seen photos of birds on Instagram or Facebook which show the birds perched on a branch in a clear profile against a clean background. Compare the photo above with the photo below. What do you think?

Black-headed grosbeak on a perch

Clearly the second photo of the bird has a better visual appeal. How does one get such a photo? It’s easier than you would imagine. My brother recently was visiting us for a family event and moved our bird feeders to a better location in the yard and created perches which enabled me to get the second photo.

What are perches and what’s involved in creating them? As the name indicates, perches are places where the birds perch or sit before they grab the seed or nut from the feeders and take off. You may have noticed that the backyard birds fly up to a branch closer to the feeder, look around cautiously before quickly grabbing the food before they take off. Sometimes the natural branches where they perch might give you the opportunity to take a photo but most of the times it is challenging due to leaves coming in the way or insufficient lighting.

That’s when it makes sense to create a perch that gives you the best opportunity to photograph the birds consistently with a good background and good amount of light. All it takes to create a perch is a few dry tree branches from your garden and some binding wire.

Perches added using fallen tree branches and some binding wire

Once you create the perches as shown above, leave them in place for a day or two until the birds get used to them. After that you will be able to take sharp photos as shown in some examples below.

A purple finch on a perch
A western pewee on a perch

Hope this helps you with the challenge of making good photos you can publish to social media as well as submit to photography contests or publish in books. Please leave your comment on what works best for you and some example photos of birds on your perches. Wishing you the very best!!


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