Finding and Photographing Owls at Night - The Birdtitude Guide
While finding owls at night is by far easier than finding them during the day, this does not mean getting the chance to actually take a picture of these magnificent birds would be easy. That being said, not easy does not mean impossible. Many owl enthusiasts have done it before, even those who were never professional photographers. All you need is just a little guide, and that is exactly what we’ve got for you here!
In this guide, you’d be learning all you need to know about finding owls at night and how to take wonderful pictures of these birds in their natural habitat. You’d also be learning about the practices you need to observe while finding owls at night. That said, let's get straight to it!
A Side Note
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Finding Owls At Night: More Than Just Luck
Here’s the thing about photographing owls ─ You need to know how to find them first, and while sometimes lady luck brings the best opportunities, she is not something you want to rely on. After all, she isn’t always known for being faithful. Learning to be able to find these birds is the first thing you need to learn, and since this guide is aimed at finding them at night, all the tips given below are relevant mainly for finding owls at night.
With that said, here are the two major need-to-knows:
Pay attention to your surroundings
This is the first thing you need to do when finding owls at night. By this, we don’t mean to go full Sherlock Holmes and start investigating the little claw marks on poles. No. What we mean is that you simply observe. As soon as you get out of your home, take a quick look around. You might be surprised at what you find.
Being nocturnal, these birds are usually very active at night and can usually be spotted flying or simply perched on a tree, pole, or even window somewhere. Simply observing your surroundings might be all you need to spot the future birdie model you’d be taking a picture of.
Taking a quick look around also provides another advantage: it keeps you out of danger. Since you are out at night you need to keep your eyes, and ears, open. Spot anything suspicious? Maybe today isn’t such a good day for owling at night after all.
Be the eavesdropping stalker
As stated earlier, lady luck really isn’t something you want to rely on. Sometimes a quick look around wouldn’t yield any favorable fruits. This doesn’t mean our stars-to-be aren’t there though. Here’s the trick: whenever you can’t see them, listen. This is one of the most effective ways of finding owls at night.
Since most other birds are asleep at nights and owls have a distinct sound, if you hear a bird call that sounds like an owl at night, it is most likely an owl. Once you hear these calls, the next thing you need to do is follow the sound as diligently and stealthily as you can. There is most likely an owl at the end of that owllike birdcall you heard.
Not sure what owls sound like? The “Voices of North American Owls” provides reliable resources on several species.
Here’s something worth keeping in mind: your best friend while owling at night is the moon. The fuller it is, the better.
Photographing Owls: Your Often Reluctant Models
Now that you now know how to find these birds at night, now’s time to get to the good stuff ─ Taking those pictures.
Here’s one thing any photographer can tell you ─ Taking a picture is easy. Taking a good one, though… that where things get a bit tricky. Add to that the fact that you would be taking these pictures at night, and that the birds you’re looking to snap are more likely to fly away than strike a pose (how we wish they do that more often!), you’ve got your work cut out for you. This section of the guide is aimed at making that work easier.
Top 2 Pro’s Tips For Photographing Owls At Night1. Come prepared
Taking quality pictures require you to be prepared to do so. That includes having the necessary equipment for taking a good shot. Bring a good camera along with you on your next expedition. While your cellphone might take some pretty nice pictures, a good camera is way better.
Coming prepared doesn’t only mean coming with the right equipment and gadgets, it also means coming equipped with the right skills. If you are looking to take some really stunning owl pictures, you might need to learn a bit about photography. This is not a necessity though, just a very big plus.
2. Hold your horses
Here’s where most beginners start getting frustrated. Approaching owls can be very tricky, especially when you plan to do more than just watch. The anticipation and excitement of what you intend to do end up working to your disadvantage most of the time!
There’s a simple trick to it though. When approaching owls, or any other wild animal for that matter, move slowly and keep your nerves in check, making sure to cause as little disturbance as possible to your surroundings as you move closer to the birds. This makes you seem more like a part of the landscape than an intruder, and in so doing, reduces your chances of spooking the birds.
Once you have these two down, then you are ready just one click away from photographing your latest celebrity to be!
So, there you have it: The Birdtitude Guide to Finding and Photographing Owls at Night.
It is important to note that this is not some magic guide though. There are going to be lots of unsatisfactory results, especially if you are a beginner to both owling and photography. Still, as any competent photographer can attest to, for every good picture there are bound to be several others that suck. So don’t get discouraged by the little “terrible pictures” you take. Ask any accomplished photographer around, they have those in spades. So get up, grab your camera, grab your flashlight, and go out and have some fun doing what you love!