I have a love-hate relationship with birds. I find many to be magnificent beautiful creatures, some to be annoying pests, and a select few are just plain old jerks, much like their human counterparts are.

My first bird images were actually mosaics. While creative, this method of displaying my bird images was one of necessity, not choice. Invariably, my images would end up like this:  a foot here, another there, the tail in this one, oh here’s the body, there’s the head, and the beak is… just a second.. oh yeah, here it is!

These days I manage to get the entire bird into a single image… most of the time.

Birds like to toy with photographers. If you have a smaller lens they’ll stay just out of reach. If you have a long lens, they’ll alight on the limb just inside your minimal focal length, after first making sure you don’t have anywhere to back up to.

They’ll take flight at the smallest provocation, usually after you’ve stalked them for the past half hour, or they’ll let you come up to within 20 feet of them and just sit there posing for you because they know you forgot your camera.

My advice for budding bird photographers is to be patient. Observe your subjects, see how they interact, watch to see if they have favorite perches, note what they eat, and then pick a good spot from which to get your images of them and wait.

Behind those feathered skulls lies a cunning mind attached to a skittish body. Let them get to know you and be comfortable around you. Always use slow movements. Your patience will pay off with some amazing images!