Saturday, January 28, 2012

Birding by Staying Put

from Learn Outdoor Photography
Yellow-rumped Warbler
When I was a beginning birder, my normal birding pattern was to go some place and walk around.  Of course, walking around is essential for good birding.  But too often as a beginning birder I would see a bird, try to photograph the bird, and then move on, without any consideration of why that bird might be there.  It didn't occur to me that the bird may have chosen his location for a very good reason, like an abundance of food, and other birds may be sure to find the same spot as well.

Northern Cardinal

Cedar Waxwing
About a week ago, I was at Mead Gardens, and I happened to find a Cedar Waxwing in the top of a tall tree.  This was the first Cedar Waxwing I'd seen this calendar year, so I stopped to take a terrible picture of the bird through lots of branches.  As I did so, about a dozen more came to keep him company.    Then I noticed that there were berries in the bushes at around eye level, and so I figured good things were going to happen, and I decided to stay put for a while.  At first all I wanted was a good picture of a Cedar Waxwing, but over the next hour or so, I found myself in the midst of perhaps a hundred birds.  There were so many that it was hard to follow just one.  I ended up counting 20 species of birds from one location (including flyovers), and I even found a lifer there--an Orange-crowned Warbler.
Orange-crowned Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Here's a list of what I found:
  1. Red-shouldered Hawk 2
  2. Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
  3. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
  4. Downy Woodpecker 3
  5. Eastern Phoebe 1
  6. Carolina Wren 1
  7. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
  8. Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
  9. American Robin 3
  10. Cedar Waxwing 50
  11. Black-and-white Warbler 1
  12. Orange-crowned Warbler 1
  13. Palm Warbler 5
  14. Pine Warbler 1
  15. Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
  16. Northern Cardinal 2
  17. White Ibis (flyover)
  18. Turkey Vulture 1 (flyover)
  19. Osprey 1 (flyover)
  20. Mourning Dove 1 (flyover)
That morning reinforced what I believe is a good birding practice.  When you see a bird, look around you and consider what may have drawn the bird to that place.  It may be an area of significant bird activity. Stay put for a while, and you may find that there are a lot more birds in the area than you saw initially, and if you're observant, you may be richly rewarded for your patience.


  1. Great post Scott and big congrats on your lifer. Love the Waxwing with the berry in the bill.

    1. Thanks, Mia. It was so nice of that Waxwing come out and play in front of my camera.

  2. Great birding day and wonderful photos. It is a great idea to stay put when you find the perfect spot. Happy Birding!

  3. A great read, shots are simply brilliant.

  4. You did get a fabulous shot of the waxwing, and the other birds as well. Great post.

  5. Wonderful post and photos Scott. A great Life bird. I have over the last year tended to stay in a few different spots that attract the birds and found it is more fun to observe them.

  6. The patience the definitely something I need to work on!

  7. Beautiful post Scott. The cardinal photo is sublime. I've always been a huge fan of sit birding - all things come to he who waits!

    1. Thanks! I'm still practicing the art of "sit birding." But I'm always glad I did.

  8. Your photos are just gorgeous ....I am learning more and more to stay put home..: } I go for long walks and come home to a back yard menagerie!!
    Your Waxwing is beautiful...I had a bird count of 22 Cedar Waxwings in my backyard this week ..unfortunately my post of then looks sick compared to yours..: }

  9. Beautiful collection of images of stunning creatures.

  10. This is why I bird from my couch... and living in 4000 acre nature preserve helps. I hold the title as the World's Laziest Birder. Great pics!

  11. Fantastic post, Scott! Your photographs are marvelous! What a wonderful list of birds viewed from the same area. I especially love the stunning Northern Cardinal and beautiful Black and White Warbler images. Congratulations on the life bird!

  12. Great advice and great photos. I always search out Mulberry trees when looking to photograph birds. Like you said, you can just sit and watch as several species come to you.