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on Nov 22, 2011 in Wildlife Photography

Set Them a Place at The Table!

Ah, the first snow of the season that will stick has fallen, winter is on! I love shooting critters in the snow for many reasons. They have their thickest fur, densest feathers, most of the time they are all puffed up to stay warm giving themselves the “I’m full and pleased” look. It is also easy to photograph them. I have learned over the years what patches of snow to NOT remove as it acts like a natural reflector so flash fill is not required. No matter the time of day, the snow bounces light up and makes getting snap shots easy to take. All you need are the critters!

Attracting critters in the winter is real simple, food and water is all it takes. When it comes to food, suet works great because it is such high energy but even better, it doesn’t freeze. Lastly, suet hangs so snow doesn’t collect on it and even if it does get wet, it’s fat so it won’t spoil. We do put out seed but it’s a pain to keep clear on some days. Water is the best, it’s free and brings in everything critter from birds to mammals. The only trick is to keep it from freezing. There are bird bath (some even solar powered now) heaters which draw no power really and keep the water just a couple degrees above freezing. This “free water” as it is called is vital to critters since they still need to drink especially in the winter.

Now if there is a trick to this when it comes to photography, it’s putting up food and water so you have a shot. That means watching backgrounds! Now I tend not to shoot the critters at the feeders and baths, but when they come and go to them. In the top shot, this is the suet post, you can see the suet cage in the lower right corner of the frame. I hung it this way because the Clark Nutcrackers (who you see here), Steller Jays and woodpeckers love to land and argue about who gets to eat. I needed a beefy branch for all that activity. But it’s the line of birds waiting their turn at the offerings that I love to photograph the most. The bottom shot is a favorite from this spring (birds are missing from our feeders right now :-( ). I love the light and the gesture. You might be saying, “There’s a stick going through its head” and you’re right. If you showed me this image I too might make a joke about the skewered brains. But for some reason, it doesn’t bother me here which doesn’t make it right, I just like it. So with Thanksgiving just around the corner, remember to be thankful for the wildlife we have about and remember to set them a place at the table!

Photos captured by D3x, 600VR