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A Photographer's take on Bird Photography and their Natural Habitats

A Photographer's Responsibility

I have been photographing wildlife for many years and capturing eye contact with a bird or as it takes off in mid-flight is a magical moment because it is fleeting. From their beautiful colors, interesting behavior, and the incredible range of shapes and sizes, birds have always fascinated me and inspired my photography. The beauty of bird watching and bird photography is you don’t need to be anywhere special to find them, most of the time all you have to do is look up! However, the trick is to remain calm since they are typically creatures on high alert.

Because humans have taken advantage of land that was once the natural habitat for wildlife, the impact begun to show the negative effects in staggering ways. The National Bird Conservatory is one way to educate yourself on habitat loss and what can be done to help conservation efforts. You can read more about their efforts and how to help here. But there are other ways to impact your individual environment such as your backyard, to give pollinators and indigenous birds a safe space to exist within. The Great Pollinator Project is another wonderful resource into understanding the threats against pollinators and how to manage and conserve their environments. To learn more about their initiatives, click here.

Setting the Stage from your Backyard

My dear cousin, Catherine Greenleaf is a certified wildlife rehabilitator with 20 years of experience rescuing and rehabilitating injured wildlife at the Saint Francis Wild Bird Center in Lyme, NH. She started a podcast for bird lovers called “Bird Hugger” she discusses how to help the birds and other critters in your backyard. She also discusses how to turn your backyard into a native oasis for birds and pollinators.

One of her podcast episodes in particular “Why Is That Woodpecker Pecking On My House?” she lays out the groundwork for listeners to take into account how their backyards are sustaining bird life by checking to see if there are existing nests in your yard. She then asks how many indigenous trees are in your backyards, which is connected to insects and their symbiotic relationship to the birds who would be building their nests there. By planting native trees and shrubs for cover and putting up bird boxes you can encourage more birds to feel safe and attracted to the area. This intricate way to access your environment will give you new perspective on what is important to sustaining a habitat for birds in your backyard.

Some native trees that she suggests planting for native birds and insects are oak, willow, and cherry trees. She also says that planting annuals such as clover, dill, fennel and parsley in different areas in your yard will help with caterpillar and butterflies as well. Since this could sound like a lot of information to absorb, she encourages starting with easy plants and for her listeners who may need further information to visit the Wild Seed Project website.

The Pileated Woodpecker is the overall subject of this episode for the question of why it is pecking on a home. The answer is they love dead wood! Their favorite food is termites, carpenter ants, and other larva and insects that live within dead wood. Her suggestion is to leave dead leaves and fallen logs to avoid the woodpeckers drilling into your house. Their actions also help with the regeneration of dead trees and the breaking down of the wood itself.

This is just one of the several episodes by Catherine Greenleaf as she shares her expertise and experience with birds and wildlife. She offers unique insights from a professional standpoint and also as a nature enthusiast for her listeners to appreciate and educate themselves. I will be writing another post specifically on the importance of pollinators and recreating your backyard to sustain and attract native wildlife and pollinators. For more of Catherine’s podcast her episodes are available on as well as on iTunes.

Are you into bird watching or consider yourself a birder? I’d love to hear your stories, comments and what kind of birds you see frequent your backyard!

Thanks for reading,

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1 Comment

Hi India - This is so interesting - and I follow my local birds as well as when I'm traveling. Woodpeckers here are sometimes on the telephone poles, which gives me pause considering the creosote, etc. But there are many in the neighborhood and their tapping echoes nicely. I look forward to learning more about pollinators! We need our birds and bees beyond their beauty! Gorgeous images. -

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