For years I have been wanting to get an image of a Bluebird on a natural tree cavity.
The chances of finding a nest cavity that is low enough to the ground for photography is slim, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
The first step was scouting for a dead tree that had limbs with either a hollow or a soft center.
Once a tree was located, tapping on the limb will let you know if the wood is solid or soft.
After finding the right limb, I cut off a 3 foot section and took it home.
To make the stump hollow enough for a bird to nest in it, I used a screw-driver to chip away at the soft wood inside.
I stopped removing the inside wood, when I got to about 4 inches from the bottom.
Below is an image looking down into the hollowed out stump.
Once the stump was hollowed out, a wood cap was then placed on each end on the stump. The lower cap acted as a base to attach a stand.
The top cap is removable to allow cleaning of the next box after breeding season is over.
I also chose a good spot on the side of the stump to drill a two inch hole for the birds to enter.
Below is a close up of the stump with the two caps and the entrance hole.
Mounting the stump on a pole and placing it away from my fence made it attractive to the local Bluebirds.
It only took a couple of days before the Bluebirds were checking out the new nest box.
The next challenge was the background that I wanted in the image.
My yard is small with limited backgrounds that have shadows and a busy fence.
To get around that problem, I made a board out of 4 printed images and pasted them on some foam core. Using a stand, the foam core background was raised to the desired height.
In the image below, you can see the nest box, the printed background, and the location of my camera.
Now I was ready to take some images.
After covering my self and photo equipment with Kwik Camo (a camo sheet that has a mesh screen to see out of) I waited for the bluebirds to return.
Below is the final result that I had envisioned.
Many times when the female would enter the cavity, the male would hover outside providing for some fun flight shots.
My next project with the nest box started a few weeks later when my peach tree was in full bloom.
I wanted an image of a perched Bluebird with a Spring time feel to it.
The peach tree in my front yard donated some limbs to this project
Placing a limb in front of the next box provided a perch for the bird. Choosing a perch carefully so that it had just the right amount of gap between the flowers, allowed me to know exactly where the bird would land.
Placing more limbs with blooms between the perch and the background gave the image some depth and continued the color theme throughout the image.
Here is the set up with the blooms and background.
The final image.