Meeting friends at your home may not be advisable right now, but being with a herd of feathered friends is a great change of pace. During the pandemic, bird watching has become a popular haven for seed suppliers, aviary builders, and other bird-related businesses, according to Audubon Magazine.
Sending an invitation to the bird community is simply a matter of eating. A garden full of trees and shrubs is an ideal place to gather, but a terrace or roof will do. Provide an abundance of goodies and birds will gather like eager children. Once the birds become regulars, you can enjoy hours of entertainment, observing the beauties, identifying them and, if you wish, taking photos.
Set the table.
You can attract birds with a single feeder from mixed birdseed. However, pulling a large and diverse population requires multiple feeders, each offering treats designed to attract specific species. Tube eaters equipped with perches too small for large birds are said to attract finches and other small birds. This type of feed can be filled with thistle seed – a finch favorite – or mixed finch feed that complements the thistle seed with sunflower chips and millet and attracts a wider variety of small birds.
A perch feeder large enough for large birds and filled with a wild bird feed mixture rich in nuts, fruits, and sunflower seeds will attract cardinals, blue jays, common gray crayfish, and other large birds. A cage hanging from a tree containing suet cakes with peanuts or fruit is a woodpecker favorite, but other species will indulge in too. Red hummingbird feeders and orange Baltimore oriole feeders filled with sugar water will attract these great specimens. Oriole feeders generally include a mandrel for assembling an orange section and a cup for grape jelly – a favorite of the pretty black and orange birds.
If there are feeders, patience is required. The birds will spot your banquet, but it may take weeks. Sparrows may appear first and other small birds will follow. Soon Blue Jays, Cardinals, Grackeln and others will arrive. Hummingbirds will stop by in the warmer months.
Once your feeders are set up, you’ll see birds you’ve never seen before. Which types you hit depends on where you are. In Michigan, a number of foragers attracted Baltimore orioles, tufted tits, red-bellied woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, warblers, and pine teats during the summer. During the spring and autumn hikes, birds can enjoy a snack on their way through your region.
When your home has become a popular feeding spot, you can sit back and enjoy the show. A printed field guide such as “The Sibley Guide to Birds” or “The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America” will help you identify your visitors. If you prefer to work digitally, the Audubon Bird Guide App is helpful.
It is entertaining to watch birds battle for position at the bird feeder, as well as the way they come and go. Some birds, including sparrows, fly quickly in a straight line, like miniature rockets, and flap their wings wildly. Others, including finches, knock them over at times, rising and falling like a roller coaster. Some birds have sophisticated eating habits. Nuthatches pluck a seed from the feeder, wedge it in a crack in a tree, and hammer it with their beaks to break it open. In the spring you can see sparrows running back and forth from the feeder to nearby branches where their young are waiting to be fed.
Take a closer look.
Watching birds with the naked eye is entertaining, but most bird watchers use binoculars. You can get a good pair for under $ 150 or spend $ 3,000 on the best models. Audubon publishes a guide to binoculars that offers choices at every price level. Look for models that are magnified 8x or greater so that a bird appears at least eight times larger when viewed than when viewed with the naked eye.
Or take a picture.
Close-up shots of birds like the ones you see on National Geographic are breathtaking, but the equipment needed to achieve these results can be expensive. However, more modest photographic results are also pleasing and can be obtained inexpensively.
Smartphones with a telephoto lens like the iPhone 11 Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S10 + can capture an image that is roughly what you see with the naked eye. Other affordable options offer more magnification. Hammacher Schlemmer offers digital camera binoculars for around US $ 200 that can produce 8x images. Sharper Image offers similar binoculars with 12x magnification. Both can be tripod mounted and produce acceptable images, but not the kind of crisp, high-resolution photos seen in nature magazines.
If you want professional results, you need a high resolution 35mm digital camera and a telephoto lens. Even if you buy used equipment, expect at least $ 500. But that’s cheaper than even a very modest vacation, and for some it may be a worthwhile investment in entertainment that provides many more hours of fun than a weekend getaway to a ski resort.
There are two types of digital cameras that are marketed as the 35 millimeter models. One guy has a full frame sensor. The other type has a smaller sensor, is cheaper, and is usually called the APS-C model. Since the APS-C camera has a smaller sensor, the recorded image is proportionally larger. A 400 millimeter lens on most APS-C cameras is roughly the same magnification as a 600 millimeter lens on a full frame camera. Good APS-C cameras with sensors that record more than 15 megapixels of image data run for $ 300 to $ 600.
The lens is the most important part of any bird watching device, and you can find great bargains by shopping nearby. For telephoto zoom lenses with sufficient focal length to get significant magnification of 400 millimeters or more, you should pay at least $ 500 for a new lens, but maybe half as much for a used one.
For bird photography you also need a sturdy tripod and a ball head or a cardan head. Gimbal heads are better for bird watching, but more expensive; A smoothly functioning ball head is sufficient.
While shooting, use an exposure mode that lets you set the shutter speed while the camera automatically selects the aperture. For sitting birds, a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second usually gives sharp results when using a tripod. Try a shutter speed of 1/2000 to capture a bird in flight with a handheld camera.