Family Photos

Canada Goose family, ColoradoJune isn’t a great time to go birding. In most parts of the country, territories are established, nests are built, eggs are laid, and the birds are either busy incubating those eggs or are run ragged trying to satisfy the insatiable appetites of their demanding offspring. Either way, the parents are being especially careful to hide the whereabouts of their progeny, making it very difficult for us birders.

However, June is a great time to take bird photographs. Family photos are so much more appealing than those of solitary portraits. If you can manage to locate a nest, grab your telephoto lens and settle in for a shoot.

Antillean Nighthawk with chick under wing, Cabo Rojo, PR

Of course, it’s important to avoid disturbing nesting birds. Too much interference may cause the birds to desert their nest, or even cannibalize their young. If you see any sign that they’re unhappy about your presence, quietly back off! Agitated behavior, alarm calls, or flying away from the nest are all indications that you are interfering.

Double-crested Cormorants, Lake Pueblo, CO

Another important consideration is to keep the surrounding habitat in the same condition as you found it. It’s so tempting to move an obscuring branch for a better view. However, this could spook the birds and cause them to abandon their young. Just consider dense vegetation part of the challenge!

Never play bird sound tapes during nesting season. Tapes will stress the parents, distracting them with an implied trespasser, or frightening them with an assumed predator. Either one adds what may be an unsupportable burden to already tired birds.

hummingbird-nestlings-cs-lah-1re

And lastly (and hopefully this is obvious), do not disturb the eggs or young in any way. Not only can you inadvertently harm the baby birds, but it’s often illegal. Remember that you aren’t a movie director so much as a privileged spectator to one of nature’s most fascinating displays.

Black-necked Stilts building nest, Puerto Rico

All that being said, there are myriads of photo opportunities unique to this time of year. I hope I’ve provided a bit of inspiration to get you out of the house. I’m sure you can do lots better.

For terrific advice on taking bird photos, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s photography website.

Birds, from top to bottom: Canada Goose family, Antillean Nighthawk with chick under wing, Double-crested Cormorants, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Black-necked Stilts building nest.

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