The BEST Resource for BIRD Photographers


welcome back to the channel everybody I
hope you spent the New Year with some friends and family and I hope over the
holiday season you ate an ungodly amount of desserts like I did today I want to
talk about what I think is the number one resource for bird photographers and
what I’ll show you today you’ll be able to better understand the birds around
you their habitat their behavior their feeding preferences and with this
resource you’ll also be able to draw inspiration for your own images and
better understand what camera settings to use when you’re out in the field the
resource that I’m talking about is Ebird.org so you’ll want to go to that
website and I’ve spoke about Ebird a few times on the channel but I’ll quickly
explain it to you in case you don’t know what it is. Ebird is a free online citizen
science database of bird observations so anyone can create an account and what
you would do is say you’re going out birding or you’re going out to do some
bird photography you would create a list a checklist of all the birds you saw in
the day and all the totals and you would submit that later on to eBird within a
check list you can also submit audio files and you can submit photos of the
birds you saw during that day and all of this gets compiled and it’s at your
disposal on eBird so there’s a lot of features within ebird but I’m going to
be talking about the photo section today because I’m putting in my vote I think
this is the best resource for bird photographers online to start the first
thing you want to do is go to ebird.org and if you don’t have an account already
I suggest starting one because if you want to submit your own checklist and
you want to track all your stats and all your data and also see all the data of
everybody else it’s just better if you have your own account. And then head over to the Explore tab under the Explore tab you have a few options but the one
I’ll be talking about today is search photos and sounds if we click search
photos and sounds what you’ll see at the top here is over 15 million photos
submitted over 500,000 audio recordings and over 50,000 video recordings so
that’s insane but we don’t need all that data especially depending what you want
to do if you’re going to a specific location in your area or if you’re
taking a trip elsewhere you want to narrow that number down and you want to
get the photos that are relevant to you so there’s a lot of things that you can
do within this tab there’s a lot of information to draw from these images
even if at first you’re thinking well why is this important I’ll go through it
all and I’ll give you a real-life example of when I used it and how
important it could be for your bird photography so two months ago I went to
Ecuador for the first time and usually we plan our trips two or three months in
advance and that gives us a lot of time to study the species study their
habitats they’re feeding preferences nesting areas
etc etc this trip was planned a little bit last minute so I only had a week to
start preparing for it as I said before there’s over 15 million images to look
through and a lot of those aren’t necessarily relevant to my trip to
Ecuador so what we can do is come to location and you can either enter a
county state province or country and you can also enter a hotspot or a National
Wildlife Refuge so if you’re going to a national park for example you can type
that in into the hotspot and you can get all the photos that were ever taken in
that national park and that’s one great way to prepare you for a trip to that
national park what I wanted to do was since I was going to Ecuador I
originally typed in Ecuador as the country and that brought my searches
down to a hundred and thirty two thousand now that’s good it obviously
narrows down your search but what I was noticing when I was going through this
where a lot of the species on this tab were found all around Ecuador and not
necessarily in the small area I was going to because I was going into the
mindo area so what I did is I removed Ecuador as a location and I went back up
to the location tab and I wanted to go down to a smaller level so country is
obviously going to be the biggest you can put but I wanted to go down to
pretty much the county level because I knew I’d be in a really small area of
Ecuador so since I was staying in mindo mindo is in the Pinchincha County and
that brought my total number of photos down to 50,000 and now when I scroll
through all these photos I know that every single one is actually relevant to
my trip and if I’m going to Ecuador for a birding trip and I want to do some
research beforehand I want my research and information to be relevant to
Ecuador I want to see what trees the birds are using what fruit they’re
eating what insects they’re eating what areas they like to hang out in that are
actually relevant to my trip so that’s why this is so important even if you’re
not planning a huge trip to go across the globe to another country but you
want to go to just say a park that’s an hour away from you that you’ve never
been to before this is what you want to use this is what will give you the most
information the most relevant information for your birding trip so I’m
gonna start getting into it now and start telling you exactly what
information I draw from these photos and how it helps me want to get into the
field so no matter which location you load up one thing that you’re gonna
notice when you start coming down to the photos is there’s a big difference in
some of the images obviously in quality but more so in how much the bird fills
the frame on the Left over here we have this brown violetear these really
close-up images of birds are great because it shows you all their field
marks and if you’re going to a new area and you’re trying to learn all these
species this is the best way to do it because in a field guide a lot of times
it’s illustrations and those illustrations are those birds in ideal
plumage whereas images like this it’s actually
the birds in the field in their habitat doing what they do so it’s a lot more
relevant than a field guide for me the one real negative of only looking at
really tight close-up images of birds is that you don’t really get a great sense
of the habitat so say we come down here to this andean ibis photo look how much
smaller the bird is in the frame and look how much more habitat you see so if
I was driving down a road in Ecuador and I see a field like this it might click
in my head because I remember seeing this photo that there might be Andean
ibis in that field so that’s one thing that I would do is just look at all the
images even if it’s not the best quality if it’s a little bit further out because
that gives you a better understanding of what’s happening around that species
another thing about the far out images is it’s a more likely scenario than
having the bird a couple feet away from you and filling your entire viewfinder
so as a photographer you can look at the further out images and you can kind of
get an understanding of their habitat and how you would photograph that
species in that habitat what would you incorporate what would you leave out so
it’s a great way for a bird photographers to draw inspiration from
birds that they’ve never seen in the field before a lot of times people say
oh I envisioned I would get this shot of this species before I even got it and
sometimes it’s hard to do that when you’ve never seen that species before
but with this you can kind of give you a better mental image of that species and
where it lives and it can help you envision the shot that you’re gonna get
before you even get it and another great resource for bird photographers is going
to the top right over here and where it says recently uploaded change that to
best quality I like to use the other page for general information so just
information on the species if I can draw conclusions about the habitats they like
to stay in but this page when I go to best quality it’s just to get photographic
inspiration pretty much I love to see all these different species and the
great thing is say for example you see this white throated screech owl and you
say wow that must have been a tough photo to take you can click on the image
and you should rate it definitely if you if it really pops out to you you should
definitely rate it so if you click the Macauley library tag for this image it’s
gonna bring you to the image itself and then if you scroll down you’re able to
see the camera and lens it was taken with and you’re able to see all the metadata
and then you can go on the left over here and you can see when it was taken
so the date you can see the time it was taken and you can also see the map so if
I click on the map over here it will open up directly in Google Maps and will
bring you right to where the checklist was submitted so extremely helpful information for bird photographers if you’re going
somewhere you’ve never been before especially I highly recommend this so
what I just shared is kind of like the basics of this tool you can go even more
in-depth and what I would suggest doing if you know you’re going on a trip say
during January I would come under date and select January here this is like the
custom area you can go January to January so now every single photo that
you see underneath here is photos of birds that were taken in the area you’re
searching, in January and you can search by all these different parameters so you
can add all these different filters to your images you’ll be able to see the
different flowers that hummingbirds are feeding at you can go down like this
golden colored honeycreeper you can say oh it’s at a fruit feeding station so I
might actually encounter this species at one of the fruit feeding stations so
all the information and all the inspiration you need to make great
photos when you go on a trip they’re all hidden within these photos you have to
be a little bit of a detective to kind of figure out okay what type of habitat
is it in or what is it feeding on but overall this just gives you so much
valuable information as a photographer a couple weeks ago I released my eastern
screech owl video and a few of you messaged me on youtube and on Instagram and you said do you have any tips for finding these birds because they’re so
well camouflaged and honestly this is exactly what I did I went on eBird I
typed an Eastern screech owl I typed in Montreal Quebec Canada as the area and I
just looked at every single image and I looked at the size of the cavity I
looked at how the birds were positioned inside the cavity and when I went into
the field I looked at similar trees and I looked at similar sized cavities and I
went through maybe 50 or so empty cavities until I saw one from really far
out and immediately when I saw it my heart just started racing because I knew
that there was an owl in there I think if you want to make better bird images it
all stems from finding more birds in the first place so I hope this resource
was helpful for you I find it extremely helpful for myself I hope you learned
something today and I hope I taught you something valuable let me know down
below if you use ebird I’m curious if other people in the community are using
it the next time you see me I might be in a different country but my lips are
sealed I don’t want to say anything until I get there
but until then happy birding

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