Birds in Winter Weather – Birds, Birds and More Birds


Do you like Winter? I just love the season’s landscape covered in snow. Why talk about it now in the middle of Fall? What Fall? Snows have arrived, but not enough to make a winter wonderland as of yet, but it is not too early to talk about photographing birds in each season. So where do we start?

What is Great About Photographing Birds in Winter?

The best season for photographs I think is wintertime, when the trees are bare and the birds take center stage.  Birds are hungry, and by far the easiest to attract to one’s location with the bribe of food. Even birds that have little contact with humans will risk the chance for a free meal.

The bird buzz in photography is action, which has been greatly aided by the constant improvements in digital photography and the learning opportunities found all over the Internet. But as fun as it is to photograph birds flying, some of my favorite shots are those simpler moments of birds in winter repose.

I have posts galore on attracting birds on Garden Walk Garden Talk. I also have posts on photographing them there as well. One thing I never discussed on GWGT is why I like certain seasons more than others for photographing.

So here we go, starting with Winter

Like mentioned above, birds are just easier to find. Granted, birds of Spring generally have more colorful plumage, which I will show later when I feature Spring birds, but in Winter, the color they do have stands out.

Many birds are common in our area to be seen in winter, and many of those birds have stunning plumage. On my gardening blog, I do show many birds in the winter garden, but I find those found in the wild are much more a challenge and offer better compositional opportunities.

Lighting is always challenging (often darker in forests) as is framing a bird to not be covered with twigs (birds retreat to thickets).



I think I like the colors of winter backgrounds far more than I do the brighter colors of Summer for instance. The birds contrast against the calming brown, tawny, gold and whites of Winter. Birds can be pulled from the backgrounds, even busy backgrounds like you find in forests. But sometimes, the background is the reason for the shot.



I also find a greater intimacy photographing birds in winter, a closer connection to the subject. I am not sure if you can see this connection in my images, but I felt it when taking the shots.



Some birds show how they are feeling, while others give indications to what they are thinking.



I will continue this series through the four seasons, each with what makes each season special in its own way. With winter just a bit over a month away, I am all geared up for some birding fun. As hard as I try to motivate my readers on GWGT to get out in the cold and snow, I think the audience here is more likely those that would join me enjoying what winter may bring.

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18 Responses to Birds in Winter Weather – Birds, Birds and More Birds

  1. My Heartsong says:

    Nice array of birds, always love the cardinals although they are very rare here.Is the last one a sharp-shinned hawk?

  2. Brilliant. Many of your birds are here at my feeders. Except for the owls. Lovely images all.

    • donna213 says:

      Thank you. Only one was in my garden and that was the hawk. I have lots of hawk photos from in the field, I guess I should have selected one of them to be consistent.

  3. Debra says:

    Beautiful photos and now I am filled with anticipation. Winter can mean opportunity.

    • donna213 says:

      I think winter is a great time for photos. It strips away all the bright color to make subjects more important. It is a great time for shadowing as well. There are exposure considerations that are important that I discussed in post on GWGT. Snow should be white and shooting a white bird on snow is not always the easiest thing to do without practice.

  4. Your photos are, of course, superb, but I have to admit I am really drawn to the owl. I love the character of these creatures.

  5. Beautiful shots! Love the Red Cardinals against the wintry background. 🙂

  6. Pat says:

    Beautiful winter scenes. I love the winter landscape, but not as much as I used to. The older I get, the warmer I want to be.

  7. bittster says:

    I’m going to take your word on a lot of this 🙂
    …although I did buy a pair of real boots this weekend, no more traipsing through the snow in crocs and then complaining about wet socks!

  8. Wow! I wish I could have seen and photographed a snowy owl last season. Maybe I’ll have better luck this year. They’ve already been seen in southern Ontario and Long Island.
    Beautiful photos!

    • donna213 says:

      I so hope to see them again this year. They like to frequent airports, so check them out if we get good snow cover. The one above was in a farmers field in March.

  9. I agree that capturing birds is easier once the leaves are gone…now getting them to pose long enough and a bit more in the open is the challenge too.

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