So only Cardinals look good in the snow? I get hundreds of searches a week all year for Cardinals and Blue Jays in the snow, so it seems they are the only birds people want to see foraging around in Winter, but there are others just as nice.
The White-throated Sparrow has a preference for thickets.
In the post, When You Need a New Bird Feeder, I got comments on the non-native Sparrows, like the House Sparrow, at the feeder.
I said many sparrows are native, but I see them infrequently in Winter. So I just had to lure one in for this post.
You want to know how?
I first went to an area with dense understory plants. Next, I set out my iPhone and started playing the calls of Chickadees. When alone in the woods, I look a little less ridiculous playing bird calls. The birds are fooled when in their habitat.
I learned this from my bird watching friends. Many birds respond to the chatter of the Chickadees. Varieties of birds will fly to where the phone is playing the calls. Take notice of how many birds are intently watching in the direction of the iPhone. They are not watching me!
The phone was put on a log (seen above) where I want birds to visit, and the rest is up to them. The Cardinal is looking at the log holding the iPhone. My app is by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but there are many good ones on iTunes.
I will play a Cardinal song to lure Cardinals for instance.
The bird calls bring them in close too. It is similar to how a hunter calls in geese and ducks.
Play a Red-tailed Hawk and see what happens. You won’t see a bird for days.
While most of these birds will respond to seed being scattered, it is a lot more fun seeing what birds will respond to calls. I would never do this during breeding season as it would stress the birds, but during winter, they arrive to the sound of chickadee chatter. They assume food is being offered or found.
It is so much more pleasing to see the birds in the woodland rather than at a feeder.
Birds that rely on natural foraging are more difficult to photograph. There is little control where they land. Branches are often in the way and many times the background of the composition is not ideal.
You don’t generally want the birds in deep thicket like below. Exposure is a bit trickier and the mass of branches often is distracting. It is work finding an angle that helps focus on the bird.
By baiting the birds with food, you can have them land more predictably. I carry seed for these occasions. Once you lure them in, the food keeps them hanging around. By observing, you see where they land most frequently.
Do you think nature photographers just sit and wait? I took a class in 2011 where a renowned wildlife photographer spilled the secrets on pruning and baiting. He would carry portable pruners to trim around branches where birds frequently perched to make his composition better.
You can do that too.
Happy Holidays, may they be bright with colorful birds!