Taking good bird pictures isn't easy. Besides the technical concerns--what kind of lens, which shutter speed--photographers also have to get close enough to get a good shot, but not close enough to scare the bird. Bird photography is as challenging as it is exciting, and requires attention to a few important details:
Get close to your subject.
Birds make great photo subjects, and the closer you can get to them, the better. Birds are unpredictable--you don't know when or where they'll land, or how long they'll stay. Patience and observation are vital. Pay attention to a bird or flock and learn their routine. Do they have a favorite tree to perch on? A favorite area in which to feed? Also, approach them when they're preoccupied. If a bird is preening, bathing, eating or sleeping, it may not notice your presence. Not only will you get a close-up shot, you'll capture an image of the bird behaving as it does in its natural habitat. Approach the bird slowly, and start taking pictures immediately. If it flies away, you'll have some pictures, even if they aren't what you want. Watch the bird as you move toward it, and if it seems alarmed, wait a minute before moving closer.
Have the right lens.
A high-quality lens is crucial in bird photography. A high magnification, telephoto lens can produce close-up pictures from a distance, allowing the photographer to obtain a good shot without getting close enough to frighten the bird. High magnification lenses also have a narrow field of view, enabling the photographer to isolate the bird from distracting background elements. However, telephoto lenses are heavy, must be used with a tripod and are expensive. Short lenses are better for group shots and for pictures of habitats. These lenses provide a larger field of view, so it's easier to get a group of birds in focus. And, you can incorporate other elements, such as the birds' habitat.
Taking high-quality bird pictures takes practice and patience. You may not always get the shot you want, or it may take several tries to be successful. However, by being prepared and by being willing to wait until just the right moment, you can increase your chances of taking pictures that capture a bird's beauty and grace.