We all dream of a place like this. A place where all the birds come together in front of your lens and stay there long enough for you to take great pictures. I have found such a place. Or better said, I was introduced to the owner of the place, as it is on private property.
The owner’s name is Joe. He has been feeding the birds for a long time already and all of them know when Joe is around, food is not far behind. Photographing the birds is a piece of cake over there. The birds will first check out if those five-legged creatures are not harmful.
When they noticed that only two of the five legs are moving, they move a tiny bit closer. You can hear and see them in the trees from far away. The Grosbeaks, the Chickadees and even the Blue Jays. The Redpolls with their tiny chirping and even a Red Breasted Nuthatch.
One by one they arrive to the food and the photographers. They check out the food, first one, quickly taking a seed and then flying away again, eating it on a branch at a safe distance. Then a few more and before you know it, they are all feeding, just in front of the cameras. The friend who introduced me to Joe is also a photographer and we were talking normally to each other. No need for shouting, we were a mere six feet away from each other. Soft talking and quiet movements were also not required after a little while.
Evening Grosbeak, female
Joe’s birds got quite used to us and we could shoot them to our hearts’ content. That is a rare event, usually you need to be in disguise to get this close to birds.
What is nice with a place like this, apart from being on private property, is that the birds are not flying away when a car passes, or even a skidoo. They seem all very calm, perhaps I should call it friendly.
Pine Grosbeak, male
That is probably a reflection of Joe, who feeds them every day. He also fed us, with coffee, cookies and stories galore. That is something that has more value than any picture of a bird. Joe will tell you all about the birds, past, present and the future ones that will come across his property during the year. It seems there is quite the collection of them.
Evening Grosbeak, female
The first time I went there, we were invited for coffee, right off the bat. While everyone was talking and dissing stories, I was looking outside, in awe of the variety of birds and all the colours. By the time we did get out to shoot them, many of them had already left, with a full belly.
Pine Grosbeak, female
Among those that had left were the Evening Grosbeaks, decided on spending their evening elsewhere. I had only two shots of them before they left. I thought I had scared them off, but later Joe told us that most of them left around the time we effectively had started shooting.
Evening Grosbeak, male
That made for an excellent reason to come back the next week. Trying not to overstay our welcome, after all it is private land and Joe is no obligation whatsoever to accept any of us on his land, we said hello to Joe, but started shooting right away. No way to let the birds fly before we shot them.
The ritual of mutual recognition repeated itself: first a single bird, then two, then all of them at the same time. The concert of the singing birds was even better this time. I guess that having –14C instead of –22C makes a big difference.
All in all, Joe’s birds are really worth shooting, Joe is welcoming as can be. Thanks for allowing us on your property, Joe!
We’ll be back!