Both the redpolls and the pine siskins are small birds that are really fast in their flights between trees and bird feeder. So, it’s tricky to photograph them in flight. Always up for a challenge, however, I’ve been known to spend a few hours getting the shots I want. Here’s what I find works:
I use a Canon 40D single lens reflex digital camera. One of its features is that it can shoot an amazing 6.5 images per second – just the thing you need to capture these fast birds in flight.
Fitting the camera up with a telephoto zoom lens helps to isolate the birds and bring them in closer, but it makes it even more difficult to follow them in the view finder. The key is to find a mid-range in the zoom so you can follow the flight as you hold the shutter down and let the camera do its thing. You can always crop the photo later to frame them a bit better.
The shutter speed, of course, needs to be fast enough to ‘freeze’ the action – over 1/500th of a second.
Focusing is the next challenge. Fortunately the 40D has a nine point focusing feature which pretty much means that if the bird is anywhere in the view finder, it’s going to be in focus. That usually works unless there are tree branches or other things that get in the way.
Just the same, with patience and perseverance, you can get some good shots. Here are a few examples:
”The battle over the feeder”
So get the camera out and give it a try. It’s great fun!