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Thread: Using Audio for Photographing Birds: The Basics.

  1. #51
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default 7 questions about attracting birds with recorded songs

    1. What is the source of your bird songs?
    I've just switched to using the app called BirdTunes on my iPhone. I used to use iBird but BirdTunes has more songs for each species.

    2. Do you have any experience with wireless speakers?
    I've just started using wireless (bluetooth) speakers. Much faster setup and no tangles. I'm using the speaker by Jawbone called Jambox. It is expensive and small but it is elegant and it plays loud.

    3. What is the optimal placement for the speaker in relation to the desired perch?
    What height? What direction should it be pointing? Up at the sky?

    4. Is it important that the speaker be camouflaged?

    5. Do you know of a list, blog or website that gives specific notes on how different species respond?
    Warblers and sparrows may respond well in general, but what about specific warblers? Is one species always a dud and one almost sure to succeed?
    I realize that results will probably vary, but if a Bay-breasted Warbler never responds it would be good to know.

    6. Does it help to vary the song if you have the choice? Does it help to pause the song from time to time?

    7. I plan to use this mostly with the smaller birds (passerines or songbirds). Are there any other species that are especially responsive?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #52
    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Hey Henry, I'll reply as best I can according to my experience. If others want to chime in that would be great too...

    1. What is the source of your bird songs?
    I've just switched to using the app called BirdTunes on my iPhone. I used to use iBird but BirdTunes has more songs for each species.

    I use the Stokes recordings as their songs are the longest ones I know of (30-45 second clips, and some over 1 minute rather than 8-10 seconds with many others)

    2. Do you have any experience with wireless speakers?
    I've just started using wireless (bluetooth) speakers. Much faster setup and no tangles. I'm using the speaker by Jawbone called Jambox. It is expensive and small but it is elegant and it plays loud.

    I have no experience with wireless speakers, but that is an option I'd toy with for sure. I like the idea of one less thing to carry in the field...

    3. What is the optimal placement for the speaker in relation to the desired perch?
    What height? What direction should it be pointing? Up at the sky?

    Close enough. Some birds will actually land on the speakers. I like to place them directly underneath the area I want the birds to perch on. Sometimes just a few inches below. For rocks and logs just place the speakers on the ground below the perch. Experiment as not all individual birds will do the same.

    4. Is it important that the speaker be camouflaged?

    No.

    5. Do you know of a list, blog or website that gives specific notes on how different species respond?
    Warblers and sparrows may respond well in general, but what about specific warblers? Is one species always a dud and one almost sure to succeed?
    I realize that results will probably vary, but if a Bay-breasted Warbler never responds it would be good to know.

    I don't know of any such list. I find it is easier to assess by "families" of birds rather than species. For example, one year I had zero success with Ovenbirds, then the next year they were all posing like crazy. Same with Blackburnian Warbler. One year nothing, another lots. Even a species that does not work well in one spot may in another. For years I tried Eastern Wood-pewee in vain...last summer I tried for the heck of it and BAM with 5 seconds one perched beautifully inches from the speakers.

    In my experience sparrows and warblers in general work better than other families.

    6. Does it help to vary the song if you have the choice? Does it help to pause the song from time to time?

    I don't think it helps to vary it, but you can try. What I did with my audio though is to eliminate the parts where it is the "call" rather than the "song". Some recordings even have the "alarm call". Get rid of that for sure as that tends to spook the birds or stress them. Defenitely do pause though, even if it is working. If after a few minutes nothing happens either shut it off, or switch species.

    7. I plan to use this mostly with the smaller birds (passerines or songbirds). Are there any other species that are especially responsive?

    Most passerine species will have some individuals respond at some point in time. Locally the rail family responds very well (Virginia Rail and Sora). Owls can respond, but not usually well enough for good photos. Woodpeckers - sapsuckers especially so in my experience. Some waterfowl such as grebes and some species of ducks approach. There may be others that I am not thinking of right now, or haven't tried with yet.

    Note that a bird "responding" may not actually be responding well for photography. MANY birds will respond but stay well back. Far fewer will "respond" by coming right in and perch for beautiful photos. Still well worth it though!!

    Thanks for any help!

    You are welcome!

  3. #53
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Thanks Dan for your thoughts.
    As I've been working with calling in birds I've got a few more questions:
    1. How much does time of day impact responsiveness to recorded songs? I know that in general birds are much more visible and vocal in the early morning. Are they also more likely to respond to recorded songs then?

    2. Are birds generally less responsive when they first arrive on site; before they have had time to stake a claim for their territory and started breeding? I ask this because I have been surprised the last few days that the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s have not been coming in to the calls like I would expect.

    3. How do you know how close you can get? In other words, how do you know what the comfort zone is of the bird you are shooting? I find that many of the birds I am trying to call in will clearly respond, but they won’t come all the way in. They flit back-and-forth off to the sides and at a distance.

    I wonder if it would help it I pulled back? I am often 20 – 25 feet from where I want the bird to be. Since these are very small birds to get them to fill a reasonable amount of the frame you have to either be very close or you have to have a lot of magnification. I’m using a 600mm lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter on a camera body with a 1.3 crop factor.

    By the way, as I’m getting shots I'm posting them on online at www.pgtnaturegarden.org

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    Forum Participant John Chardine's Avatar
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    Henry- Daniel mentions this in question 6 above, but I will emphasise. It is extremely important to be careful and conservative about using songs to attract birds. If you think about it, you are making a major intervention in a songbird's territory by suddenly playing the song of another of its own species inside its territory. I would not be thinking about setting up some elaborate speaker system, which takes time to setup and move. Instead I would use a small, portable hand-held system that you can switch on and off easily, and of course they take no time to set up. Think about playing a song only once or twice, rather than repeatedly, and see what happens. In my experience the best reaction you get is with the first play or two. Take long pauses between playings, and decide beforehand that you are going to leave the territory after a reasonable period of time (say 10 minutes). Stop immediately if you see signs of stress in the bird such as tail-flicking, sudden preening, drooped wings etc and more to another territory.

    I use a small, hand-held, integrated amp and speaker system called, rather horribly, the iMainGo2. it works with iPods and iPhones. I use BirdJam and the Stokes CDs.

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    John, I am unaware of any studies that prove that playing a tape can be harmful though I do agree that over-doing it is not advisable. Birds engage in territorial disputes all day long yet I am not aware of any biologists who advise shooting a male from an adjacent territory in order to minimize disturbance.

    How can we possibly know that playing a tape does not sharpen a bird's ability to defend its territory?
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    Forum Participant John Chardine's Avatar
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    1. The best write-up on the subject on the web IMO is here

    2. The Precautionary Principle: one of many definitions available on the web is:

    "Precaution – the “precautionary principle” or “precautionary approach” – is a response to uncertainty, in the face of risks to health or the environment. In general, it involves acting to avoid serious or irreversible potential harm, despite lack of scientific certainty as to the likelihood, magnitude, or causation of that harm".

    3. We love our subjects more than photography.
    Last edited by John Chardine; 04-11-2011 at 03:10 PM.

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Thanks Dan for your thoughts.

    You're welcome :-)

    As I've been working with calling in birds I've got a few more questions:
    1. How much does time of day impact responsiveness to recorded songs? I know that in general birds are much more visible and vocal in the early morning. Are they also more likely to respond to recorded songs then?

    Not much that I've experienced. The only reason I don't do it mid-day (on a clear sunny day) is because of the harsh light which doesn't do photos justice most of the time. I've had success at different times of day.

    2. Are birds generally less responsive when they first arrive on site; before they have had time to stake a claim for their territory and started breeding? I ask this because I have been surprised the last few days that the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s have not been coming in to the calls like I would expect.

    Again, I've had success at different times of the year too. It is quite normal for birds to not come in as expected...the success rate is more miss than hit by using calls (I'd say at least 75% miss). Locally I find the Yellow Warblers and Swamp Sparrows to be more responsive when they first arrive on site but this is far from scientific. Perhaps you just have a non-responsive individual gnatcatcher...perhaps it will respond at another time.

    3. How do you know how close you can get? In other words, how do you know what the comfort zone is of the bird you are shooting? I find that many of the birds I am trying to call in will clearly respond, but they won’t come all the way in. They flit back-and-forth off to the sides and at a distance.

    I wonder if it would help it I pulled back? I am often 20 – 25 feet from where I want the bird to be. Since these are very small birds to get them to fill a reasonable amount of the frame you have to either be very close or you have to have a lot of magnification. I’m using a 600mm lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter on a camera body with a 1.3 crop factor.

    Do you conceal yourself in a blind? I've had individuals flick back and forth in trees when I'm just standing there come right down to the source of audio when I'm concealed in a blind. Common Yellowthroat comes to mind. I've not had success with this species when out in the open, but when concealed had lots of luck. Blackburnian Warbler is another example in my experience. With only 400mms to work with, I am set-up in at around 10-12 feet, sometimess LESS.

    One thing to note is that a bird flitting back and forth, but not coming closer after a few minutes, will likely not come down any closer. It is time to quit on that individual, or try again later.

    By the way, as I’m getting shots I'm posting them on online at www.pgtnaturegarden.org

    If those images are obtained via call-back, then I'd say you are doing well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    J Birds engage in territorial disputes all day long yet I am not aware of any biologists who advise shooting a male from an adjacent territory in order to minimize disturbance.

    How can we possibly know that playing a tape does not sharpen a bird's ability to defend its territory?
    Point one is true. By singing a territory is defined and defended. Important business, as only a territory of sufficient size will allow survival of the owner and his offspring. That's also why no biologist would advise to shoot a male from an adjacent territory, as the claims are already stacked out and a working system is in place.

    Point two can be answered by looking at it this way: By playing a tape recording we add another competitor into the picture. One that can not be beat, since it sings louder (thanks to amp and speakers) and more enduring (as long as the battery lasts) than the real thing. There is a fine line and if we overdo it the overpowered bird will eventually do what this whole mechanisms of territoriality is all about, it will give way to the superbird with "proven" superiour biological fitness. Problem is that superbirdy will not breed and maintain the species.

    Tape recordings can be put to good use (bird counts, surveys, birdphotography) and do no harm if used knowledgable and wisely. Used without some knowledge about bird behaviour and biology a lot of harm can be done (during bird counts, surveys, birdphotography). Birds may leave territory, abandon nests and nestlings, neglect care for their offspring and themselves.

    So if one needs to ask what songs to play, when to play them, and where, they shouldn't be doing it as there is obviously a lack of the know how to make it a save business (people doing bird counts and surveys mostly have this kind of knowledge, and so do a lot of birdphotographers).
    However, for me there is a critical difference between a photographer taking pictures of birds, and a birdphotographer.

    Ulli

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Ulli,
    All points well taken. I have always espoused that tapes be played in moderation and that folks learn what and what not to do when using tapes for photography. That is why I asked Dan to write the tutorial in the ER. He did and it is excellent.

    I have been photographing birds for about 28 years and have used a tape perhaps a dozen times. There are others including several folks here who would no sooner think of heading out into the field without their tape player and speakers as they would heading out without the camera and lens.
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
    BIRDS AS ART Online Store: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
    BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours: we cost more because you get more and learn more.






  10. #60
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Cadieux View Post
    ...
    3. How do you know how close you can get? In other words, how do you know what the comfort zone is of the bird you are shooting? ... I am often 20 – 25 feet from where I want the bird to be

    Do you conceal yourself in a blind?
    I do carry a Kwik Camo Photography Blind as I am walking around. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I honestly can't say I see a big difference. Maybe I'm using it incorrectly. Any tips?

    Occasionally I use a real blind (one that is more like a tent) but I don't like being inside of it and having my vision limited.

    Thanks,
    Henry
    www.pgtnaturegarden.org

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulli Hoeger View Post
    Point one is true. By singing a territory is defined and defended. Important business, as only a territory of sufficient size will allow survival of the owner and his offspring. That's also why no biologist would advise to shoot a male from an adjacent territory, as the claims are already stacked out and a working system is in place.

    Point two can be answered by looking at it this way: By playing a tape recording we add another competitor into the picture. One that can not be beat, since it sings louder (thanks to amp and speakers) and more enduring (as long as the battery lasts) than the real thing. There is a fine line and if we overdo it the overpowered bird will eventually do what this whole mechanisms of territoriality is all about, it will give way to the superbird with "proven" superiour biological fitness. Problem is that superbirdy will not breed and maintain the species.

    Tape recordings can be put to good use (bird counts, surveys, birdphotography) and do no harm if used knowledgable and wisely. Used without some knowledge about bird behaviour and biology a lot of harm can be done (during bird counts, surveys, birdphotography). Birds may leave territory, abandon nests and nestlings, neglect care for their offspring and themselves.

    So if one needs to ask what songs to play, when to play them, and where, they shouldn't be doing it as there is obviously a lack of the know how to make it a save business (people doing bird counts and surveys mostly have this kind of knowledge, and so do a lot of birdphotographers).
    However, for me there is a critical difference between a photographer taking pictures of birds, and a birdphotographer.

    Ulli
    No argument from me either. Ethical considerations are very important, as mentioned in my article. Considering the last point you make though (especially which I've bolded in the quote above), I would rather someone ask those questions and be guided with options rather than just go ahead blindly. The person/people asking questions is/are being responsible instead of remaining silent in doubt...

    Re: Photographer taking pictutres of birds vs bird photographer. Is this a critical difference as far as using audio? Is one more justified than the other, or less? I'm not trying to be argumentative, just being curious about the statement.

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Domke View Post
    I do carry a Kwik Camo Photography Blind as I am walking around. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I honestly can't say I see a big difference. Maybe I'm using it incorrectly. Any tips?

    Occasionally I use a real blind (one that is more like a tent) but I don't like being inside of it and having my vision limited.
    I don't have experience with the quick camo blind so I can't really offer advice with that. I think I'd feel claustrophobic inside one of those!! I do use a "tent" pop-up blind and love it. I partially unzip the side windows so I can see out the sides (and let a bit of breeze flow through). I've personally had much more luck with a blind than none, especially with the warbler family. The times I don't use a blind I do try to remain very low and still, and will often hide behind tall grasses, or fallen logs, or partially hidden behind a tree. Just try to avoid standing straight up and completely out in the open.

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    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default Using Blinds to Photograph Birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Cadieux View Post
    I do use a "tent" pop-up blind and love it.
    How do you carry that in the field?

    I find that carrying the camera gear is challenging enough, it weighs about 30 pounds.

    Also, what method do you use to get to the birds? Do you select a promising habitat, set up and wait?

    The method I use is to walk around until I hear the bird song. Then I set down my tripod and pull up the bird song on my iPhone and see if they respond. Any suggestions?

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    The blind I use is very light, and folds-up paper thin and compact - I just carry it over my shoulder. It sets up in seconds.

    If I just walk around I don't bother bringing the blind as it is too cumbersome even with its small size. On days that I do decide to sit in a blind I go to pre-selected habitats that I know have a good number of birds and different species. I also know which species will be found there and those are my target ones for the outing. There are a few locally that are ideal that I had pre-scouted. I just set it up in a good spot relative to light angle (and set-up a perch with a good clean BG). Sit in it and listen for what is close and hope an individual will cooperate - which is not always the case!

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    [QUOTE=Daniel Cadieux;659523
    Re: Photographer taking pictutres of birds vs bird photographer. Is this a critical difference as far as using audio? Is one more justified than the other, or less? I'm not trying to be argumentative, just being curious about the statement.[/QUOTE]

    I can go to a baseball game and take photos. I don't know much about the game, still I may get a few good ones by luck or shooting numbers. I am a photographer shooting sports, not a sport photographer.
    I would be more successful if I know the game, knowing what is going on and what could be going to happen. I would be able to anticipate action and potentially interesting photo ops. However, I will likely not interfere with the game or endanger player, and if I will find out by being told or even kicked out from the stadium. Now transfer this to a horseback riding arena and you add the potential of someone in front of the camera getting hurt because of me shooting horse pictures not knowing what to do and what not to do. Here being a horse photographer will not only yield better images, it also will protect my subjects -and me.

    Same applies to bird and wildlife photographers, knowing your subject improves your photographic success rate, protect your subject, and -less a problem with birds- protect you from your subjects (bears, tigers, other large and/or potentially dangerous critters).

    Wildlife has limited ability to let us know if we are about to cross the line or already crossed it. That's why we need to know our subjects to prevent harm to them and harm to us.

    That's why I make this difference between photographing something and being a something photographer and can only wish that photographers interested in shooting something will eventually become somehtingphotographers by learning about the needs of their favorite subjects and respecting those.

    Ulli

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    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default Advice on using Blinds for bird photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Cadieux View Post
    On days that I do decide to sit in a blind I go to pre-selected habitats ...
    I haven't gotten the knack for shooting from blinds yet. Perhaps you can offer some advice. Please let me know what a typical scenario might be.

    1. Do you hike out to a preselected spot early in the morning and set up and immediately get in the blind and wait?

    2. How long do you typically stay in the blind?

    3. Do you sit in a chair? Kneel?

    4. Any other advice for using blinds?

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    Questions #2 is the easy one.
    You stay as long as you need or want to, or as long as you can stand it. It will get very warm and stuffy in those things -something to consider when setting up, i.e. find a shady spot to avoid direct sun. It can become very uncomfortable, so the answer also depends on your personal pain threshold and/or degree of obsession.

    Best is if the birds don't see you entering or leaving the blind, that will make them suspicious. A common suggestion is to have someone walk you to the blind and back, if you have to take or leave position while being watched by the them. Birds seem not to care that two became or one became two.

    Also a freshly set-up blind may be suspicious for a while as it is new element in the familiar scenery. More a problem with the local population than with transients, and less a problem in always changing habitats (beach, salt marsh) than in static ones (forest, backyard). If the spot is safe you may want to consider leaving a blind for a while, or construct one from branches and camo netting.

    If you sit, kneel, or lay down depends on the kind of blind (head and floor space) and the shooting angle you want. Most commercial blinds are made for hunters and the peek holes are on chair level height. For low level shoots some folks cut extra holes in their blinds. Chair blinds are somewhat limited in options, so I would look into the ones a la doghouse/outhouse for mobile use, or the option to construct a more permanent structure in a good spot using military surplus netting. Burlap used to wrap up plants for the winter is also very useful (cheap and biodegradable) for constructing such fixed blinds.

    Other advice?! Bring fluids to stay hydrated and alert in your hole, some snacks will not hurt as well. Also consider ways to dispose your biological waste products in case you don't have spincter muscles made from steel and the will power of a tibetan monk. If you gotta go you gotta go. Depending on location bug repellent is a must as the blood suckers will find a way inside. Don't set up on ant burrows or ground wasp nest entrances as designated hides don't have a sewn on floor like camping tents. Try not to fall asleep -you will miss the action, AND DON'T SMOKE IN THE BLIND (you may end up roasted when dry stuff underneath or the blind itself catch a spark).

    Otherwise have fun -and it can be a lot of fun

    Ulli

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    Ulli, thanks for the excellent post. Pretty much how I do it too, except I've never knowimgly had a problem with a suspicious newly set-up blind in the woods being a detriment or birds seeing me go in or out of my blind but I've heard this could be something to think about. I do try to stay put in it as long as I can though as I would agree that going in and out very often would be counter-productive.

    For Henry's questions:

    1. On days that I decide to do the blind thing, yes.

    2. See Ulli's post. I'm very patient and I can last for hours in a blind. Needless to say the audio is off most of that time (just in case people wonder...)

    3. I mostly sit on a tri-legged folding canvas stool. With my "Outhouse" blind I'm at the perfect height to see out the open window when sitting on that. For ground dwelling birds I may opt to lie down on the ground, lens pointing out beneath the bottom of the blind. Keep your shirt and pant openings tucked in to avoid accidents...nothing worse or more surprising than having a creepy crawler suddenly scurrying on your skin!!

    4. Again, see Ulli's post. I'll often bring a small foldable table and small cooler to keep some snacks and drinks at close range - but this is easier to carry out in the field when I'm stationed close (walking distance) to the folks' cottge or not hiking far away from the car.

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    Default Getting Birds to perch where you want

    I'm not having luck getting birds to perch where I want. They always seem to want to hang back in a thicket. That makes for messy backgrounds or for branches in front of the bird.

    Suggestions?

    Despite the messy background I was able to get this picture of a Prairie Warbler eating a bee yesterday:

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Get a copy of Alan Murphy's Guide to Songbird Set-ups; he teaches you how to get the bird to land where you want it. He can get them to land on his business card...
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default Focusing tips for Warblers

    How do you focus when shooting Warblers?
    1. Do you let the camera pick the AF Sensor or do you do it? I manually select the central AF sensor. If I let the camera auto-select the AF point I find that it usually picks the wrong thing, such as a twig.

    2. Do you use Servo vs One-Shot? I tend to use One-Shot since I can make sure where my selected focus point is.

    3. Do you autofocus and than manually fine tune for the eye? I aim for the eye but warblers often move fast and I am lucky to get the bird in the frame and when I do I often end up focusing on the belly or wing.

    4. How often do you use Extension tubes when shooting warblers? I find that I don't use them that much because it seems that I always end up wanting to focus farther away at times and the extension tube won't let me.

    I'm using the Canon 600 f/4 with a 1.4 teleconverter with the 1D MkIV (which has a 1.3X crop factor)

    Thanks!

  22. #72
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default Guide to Songbird Set-ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Get a copy of Alan Murphy's Guide to Songbird Set-ups; he teaches you how to get the bird to land where you want it. He can get them to land on his business card...
    Artie,
    I do have his book and it is great. However warblers don't seem to respond to the tricks that he uses for feeder birds. At least they have not for me yet.

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    Henry, I seem to recall that you purchased a copy of ABP II; am I correct? Pretty much all of your questions in Pane #71 are answered there....
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
    BIRDS AS ART Online Store: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
    BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours: we cost more because you get more and learn more.






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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Northern-Parula-BOK-singing-bill-tip-and-NECK--REPLACED-_10J4562---Dauphin-Island,-AL.jpg  

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Domke View Post
    Artie, I do have his book and it is great. However warblers don't seem to respond to the tricks that he uses for feeder birds. At least they have not for me yet.
    Henry, what has worked for me (on the rare occasions that I have tried to tape warblers) is to set up the speaker below a very attractive perch with a relatively distant background and then play the tape for 30 seconds or so until the bird responds by coming towards the tape. Then I shut off the tape and wait. Using this technique I have gotten lucky on occasion.... Here is what I mean:
    later and love, artie......... Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    BIRDS AS ART Blog: great info and lessons, lots of images with our legendary BAA educational Captions.
    BIRDS AS ART Online Store: we will not sell you junk. 30+ years of long lens experience/e-mail with gear questions.
    BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours: we cost more because you get more and learn more.






  25. #75
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Default THE ART OF BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY II

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Henry, I seem to recall that you purchased a copy of ABP II; am I correct?
    Yes, I did buy that. Unfortunately the disc has been misplaced. I need to order a replacement disc.

  26. #76
    BPN Member Henry Domke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Morris View Post
    Henry, what has worked for me is to set up the speaker below a very attractive perch with a relatively distant background and then play the tape for 30 seconds or so until the bird responds by coming towards the tape. Then I shut off the tape and wait.
    That is close to what I am doing now but I don't stop the tape after 30-seconds. What is the advantage of stopping?

    One problem I am having is that the birds don't want to go to perches that I select. They always want to hang back in a thicket. Suggestions?

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Domke View Post
    How do you focus when shooting Warblers?
    1. Do you let the camera pick the AF Sensor or do you do it? I manually select the central AF sensor. If I let the camera auto-select the AF point I find that it usually picks the wrong thing, such as a twig.

    I pick it. Central Sensor for these fast moving subjects. If the warbler gives me time I will then recompose.

    2. Do you use Servo vs One-Shot? I tend to use One-Shot since I can make sure where my selected focus point is.

    Servo, but I use the back * button to focus so I just let go of the button to lock focus if needed (and to recompose)

    3. Do you autofocus and than manually fine tune for the eye? I aim for the eye but warblers often move fast and I am lucky to get the bird in the frame and when I do I often end up focusing on the belly or wing.

    Autofocus on the eye. Warblers don't give you time to manually fine-tune. If you stop down a bit, light permitting, (e.g. f/8) than you can aim at the neck/breast/shoulder and still get a sharp eye.

    4. How often do you use Extension tubes when shooting warblers? I find that I don't use them that much because it seems that I always end up wanting to focus farther away at times and the extension tube won't let me.

    Never (for warblers).

    I'm using the Canon 600 f/4 with a 1.4 teleconverter with the 1D MkIV (which has a 1.3X crop factor)

    Thanks!
    Hope this helps...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Domke View Post
    That is close to what I am doing now but I don't stop the tape after 30-seconds. What is the advantage of stopping?

    Stopping prevents putting the subject in distress. I personally go for a few minutes at a time, then stop. Try again 2-3 times and then quit on that particular subject if it doesn't respond.

    One problem I am having is that the birds don't want to go to perches that I select. They always want to hang back in a thicket. Suggestions?

    Try setting up further away from the thicket. If the bird is curious enough to come out and has only the one (or two) set-up perch(es) to land on that will put chances on your side.
    ______________________________

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    Haven't looked here for a while. Lots of good information. Once small myth has crept in regarding bird behaviour so I'll nip it in the bud:

    It is not necessarily true that males are having territorial disputes all day long. Typically, a piece of ground where songbirds are nesting will be a patchwork of more or less non-overlapping territories. Males hold these territories and defend them normally by singing at different points in the territory out to the boundary. This is a relatively stable system in that territory holders are aware of their neighbours, where they are, where the boundaries are and even who they are- individual males will have slightly different songs that can be recognised by other males. Once territories are set up after arrival in the spring, males do not need to engage in territorial disputes all day long. Think of it like a gentleman's club. Disputes in the form of chases, fights and other aggressive interactions can be very costly and tend to be avoided in favour of symbolic fighting in the form of singing.

    Young males breeding for the first time have to first find a territory and they may have to compete with an established male territory holder to gain it. This can lead to disputes from mild to fierce. The number of young males looking for territories depends on a lot of things. In expanding populations with lots of recruits, there may be lots of males on the lookout and territory holders may have to work hard to defend their territory. In declining populations- and sadly many songbirds are declining- the number of new recruits may be small and territory holders may have it easy.

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    there is an article published today in the local paper that is fairly "neutral" on this topic, but perhaps worth reading for those interested...

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...dcalls17m.html

  31. #81
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    Thanks Enrique. It's good to know this technique is not just used willy-nilly without thinking about its effects. Articles like this make people think. This article is pretty negative.

    In my experience there are a few take-home messages:

    1. Playback of bird song can be a very rewarding way of attracting birds for viewing or photography. (I use it frequently from April through July).

    2. Use playback of bird song in moderation and be aware of the potential effects of what you are doing.

    3. Don't fall into the trap that because you are doing something "natural" it doesn't have an effect, or that because there are only a few scientific papers published to date showing it has an effect, it doesn't.

    4. Understand that the cumulative effects of many birders and photographers using playback in a particular area can have negative effects and understand and respect the bans in place in many parks and protected areas.
    Last edited by John Chardine; 05-17-2011 at 03:59 PM.

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    Default Prosecution threat for using bird song recordings

    Here is a link to an article in the British Daily Telegraph newspaper published on May 12th.

    Dave Hassell.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wil...e-warbles.html

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