Being an avid wildlife photographer, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to capture the mesmerizing beauty of nature. Among the many subjects that captivate my lens, none compare to the Eastern Bluebirds that have chosen to nest in my own yard. In this blog post, we will explore the techniques and strategies I employ to photograph these remarkable avian creatures, while respecting their delicate habitat.
1. The Perfect Nest Box Setup
As a photographer, it is essential to maintain a delicate balance between capturing beautiful moments and respecting the natural habitat of the Eastern Bluebirds. To achieve this, I have chosen to position a carefully crafted nest box near the end of my driveway, providing a favored nesting spot for these magnificent birds.
2. Nurturing Moments: Nesting Periods
The Eastern Bluebirds nest two or three time a year, and each nesting period provides a unique opportunity to document their nurturing moments. Currently, I am privileged to observe and photograph the second batch of these remarkable birds. To capture these moments, I establish my position within the comfort of my pickup truck, ensuring I do not disturb the birds.
To minimize any disturbances caused by my presence, I set up my camera and lens on a bean bag, strategically positioned over the open window of my truck. Although using camouflage netting would be ideal, I have opted not to do so, as the current setup does not disturb the birds. This allows me to blend into the environment and capture the Bluebirds’ activities seamlessly.
3. Silent and Steady: Photographing the Bluebirds
In order to capture the Bluebirds in their most natural state, it is crucial to remain as motionless and silent as possible. From the confines of my vehicle, I employ a silent mode on my camera, enabling me to be fully prepared for the continuous flurry of activity as the avian parents gather nourishment for their young. This silent approach ensures I do not startle or disrupt the birds.
To maintain a respectful distance from the Bluebirds, I utilize a long lens, allowing me to park my vehicle at a greater distance. This not only minimizes any disturbances but also ensures that the birds are comfortable and unaware of my presence.
4. Blending In: Disguising my Presence
To further reduce the chances of disturbing the Bluebirds, I employ several disguise techniques. The presence of the bean bag, camera, and lens in the window effectively disrupts the outline of my human form, making it less likely to alarm the birds. Additionally, I dress in natural hues such as green, brown, or gray, with gray being my preferred choice, as it harmonizes with the interior of my pickup truck.
5. Ethical Photography: Respecting the Fledglings
As a responsible photographer, it is crucial to prioritize the welfare of the young Bluebirds. Therefore, I dedicate only a limited amount of time, typically an hour or two in the mornings, during the initial two or three days of photographing the feeding process. Once the fledglings start peeking curiously from the nest box, I cease my photography to ensure that my presence does not hasten their departure.
Here are some tips for the best setup for an Eastern Bluebird birdhouse:
1. **Location**: Eastern Bluebirds prefer forest clearings and semi-open country with scattered trees, but they also like nest boxes out in the open. Position the nest box so that the entrance hole is facing east and towards open habitat. Put the birdhouse in a wide open area with a clear flight path into the nest. Bluebirds use houses that are placed in full sun and far away from the shade. Also, do not place a bluebird house near bird feeders.
2. **Height**: It is recommended to mount the birdhouse on top of a pole at four to six feet off the ground instead of attaching it to a tree as the best.
3. **Design**: The birdhouse should have an entrance hole that is 1 1/2″ wide for Eastern Bluebirds. The center of the entrance hole should be 2″ from the top and 2 1/2″ from each side. The birdhouse should be made of 3/4-inch thick and unpainted/unfinished wood. The roofline should slope toward the front of the birdhouse. The front of the birdhouse should swing open for cleaning.
By following these tips, you can create a suitable habitat for Eastern Bluebirds to nest and thrive.
Here are a few current images I have made with this setup:
Eastern Bluebird With Caterpillar