Songbird Perch Placement Tips

April 22nd, 2010 by Alan Murphy

Now that the weather has turned and plants are blooming, you can do set-ups and choose your own perches.  Have you given any thought as to what angle you place the perch around your set-up?

I've been experimenting with this for many years, and here’s what I have settled on doing.

If you place the perch going away from you, the bird will land with his side to you. I call this the field guide pose :-)

This image of a Worm-eating Warbler shows the bird in good position, but I feel that the perch running up through the frame is distracting, and the perch vegetation extends from the back of the bird. Unless you are shooting at f16, the nearest and furthest part of the perch will be out-of-focus.

If we place the perch parallel to the camera plane, the the bird will land either facing you or with his back to you.

The perch is now all in focus and no part of the perch is running through the bird. But how can we get the perch to look like this and get the bird to face us with a nice pose?

Well, what I have discovered after many hours is that even though the bird will land with his back to you or facing you full on……

It’s only a matter of seconds before the birds does what I call the “twist”!

All small birds move on the perch this way.

If you give them a few seconds, the'll turn when they want to move along the perch.

Now you have the best of both worlds. The perch is nice and sharp and all in focus. No part of the perch is extending out of the bird and the bird is parallel to the camera plane showing that field guide pose.

So when I set my perches up around my feeders and drip ponds, I set them parallel to the camera and wait for that “twist”.


You can check out Alan's Songbird Setup CD in the store, and visit his website here.

All images © 2009 Alan Murphy Photography

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