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All photographs by David Lilly

Fall Colours For Backgrounds

Fall is short in Canada. But in Eastern Canada the short fall produces some amazing colours. So, for Bird Photographers photographing  your favourite birds with fall colours is a great way to show off your fall colours and some colours.

The Bluejay and the female Purple finch to the right was photographed in my backyard on a perch that I deliberately set up as to have the fall colours in the background.

I have many photos of the birds with other backgrounds, but the fall colours add another dimension to the photograph that is not possible in the other three seasons.

The trick is to make sure your perch for the birds is far enough from the trees/backgrounds. You only want the bird sharp and not the background. Try to find a fall background where there are no hot spots -  bright leaves. In the Bluejay photo some of the leaves are a little bright, but acceptable. It is a compromise for good light on the bird.

Nikon D 7200 with a 500mm F4 Nikon lens.

Thrushes  are hard to Photograph

Some of the most difficult birds to photograph are Thrushes.

Thrushes are ground feeding birds and as a result are most often found inn the darkest shadows. 

They never seem to stand still for a photograph. Also, they are the same colour as their surroundings, making them very hard to see.

My approach has been to sit still when I see a Thrush and wait to see if it will expose itself to some light. As you can see from the photos in this article that method has worked on several occasions.

So, it all boils down to one of the basic principles for photographing birds - Patience.

Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Latest Bird Photographs from my Backyard

All of the bird photos to the right were photographed in my backyard.

I have spent many hours photographing in my backyard and it is fun for many reasons.

I can keep an eye on the feeders.  When I see some new bird come I can quickly go to the camera that is ready to photograph and capture the moment.

When the weather is not good outside I can be dry and warm and get good photos with overcast light. And I can practise getting birds in flight.

I don't use a flash  but I know when the light is the best - usually about two hours a day. My house faces east/west so I have to wait until 11 AM before the light gets good. Even then it is side lighting.

I don't control the light but I do control where I set the bird feeders and the branches. The only factor I can't control is where the birds perch and which way they are  facing.

I see more variety of birds in my backyard then I do when walking around. So far I have had 40 different birds in backyard with many coming on a regular basis.

If you need advise for your backyard setup email me at

A Sticker on Sticks

I will admit I like to photograph birds with no sticks or branches cluttering up the photograph.

Sometimes it is possible to get a clean background. More often it is not. In thought, a bird nicely posed presents a false presentation as it gives the impression this is how you photograph birds. 

In reality, bird photographers know most bird photographs are not photographed with clean backgrounds. In many bird photographs the backgrounds have been removed in the processing software. Yes, I am guilty of this. It seems no one likes a bird photograph with branches or sticks around the bird.

As you can see in the photographs of the Evening Grosbeaks to the right I presented the photographs as I photographed it . I could have removed the branches but opted to leave them in the photograph.

Bird photographers do have control of what is in focus by adjusting the aperture (F - stop); F4 for example will give you less depth of field than F16. Long lens as in the 200 - 500mm Nikon lens will give you that shallow depth of field. The closer you are to the bird the less depth of field you have with F5.6 and farther away from the bird more depth of field you have with the same F-stop.

The only branches and sticks in the two photographs are the ones that are around the Grosbeak. The branches in the background are out of focus. For me both photographs are acceptable. The grosbeak is sharp and has a sparkle in the eye. In the second photo the bird takes flight and I like this action capture, branches and all.

Check your old bird photograph you may have some great photographs with sticks and branches that are excellent bird photographs.

Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200 - 500mm lens.

Rainy Day Bird Photography

Overcast rainy days can be excellent for bird photography. 

First, there is no shadows as on sunny days. Second, it seems more birds coming to the feeders.

I think it is the soft overcast light I like the most about rainy days.

To photograph in the rain you will need a shelter of some kind. Although, the new camera can withstand some moisture, I don't think all day in pouring rain would be good for the equipment.

I have my feeders in a position where I can photograph from my basement window. I stay dry and it acts as a blind.

Don't let the rain stop you from photographing; you may be missing out on the best photography opportunities.

Nikon D 7200 with a Nikon 500mm F4 lens.

Don't forget you can double click on any image to get a Lightroom view.

Evening Grosbeaks in the Morning

This sunny mourning I was observing my bird feeders and out of the trees came five Evening Grosbeaks. Three males and two females.

I have seen them before at the feeders, but only two. So, this was a surprise. Ok, maybe not so much of a surprise because on one of my walks a few weeks ago I did see a flock. I knew they would find my feeders eventually.

I have a two squirrel buster feeders not suited for Grosbeaks, so they did not hang around very long. I will have to put a large open feeder up and see if they hang around.

The Grosbeaks are a  northern bird that migrate to the southern regions of Canada and Northern US in the winter. I did not see any in the winter 2019 -2020. A report on the food supply in the Northern Boreal Forest for this winter says natural food is poor. This might explain why I am seeing a few Evening Grosbeaks now.

The Evening Grosbeak is one of the prettiest birds that has come to my feeders. The yellow colour and the big beak make them easy to spot. They are about the same size as an American Robin for ID purposes.

Updated Photos as of 21 Nov 20

Read more about the Evening Grosbeak.

Nikon D 7200 with a Nikon 500mm F4 lens.