Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Photographing Pileated Woodpeckers

Photographing Pileated Woodpeckers son Vancouver Island

Pileated Woodpeckers require a forest for there habitat that has trees that are old enough that they are starting to rot on the inside, fall over, become infested with different beetle larva and has lots of ants. This type of forest has the food they need and the right types of trees for excavating there nest holes. These are called wildlife trees, it is when a tree has reached its peak and starting to decline, this is when it useful to wildlife like the woodpeckers, this is a process that can take hundreds of years.
Photographing Pileated Woodpeckers in Black Creek.

If you live in such an area and have Pileated Woodpeckers you can attract them with food like other birds, they really don't care for suet feeders, although I find with the tailboard they will use them, what they like is a log with holes drilled in it and homemade suet placed in the holes, the other woodpeckers like this along with the starlings and crows so you have to see if it will work in your area.
Vancouver Island is a good place to photograph Pileated Woodpeckers.

For me it does work and it gives me an opportunity to photograph these interesting birds, they are shy and I needed a blind or to shoot out a window at first but once they were used to my presence I could photograph from the deck.
Photograph of juvenile Pileated Woodpecker on Vancouver Island

Taking the photo in your yard allows you to control the elements in the picture, like background, foreground and what the bird has landed on. Picking the right log is important you want it to complement not be the focus of the picture.
Photograph of Pileated Woodpecker peeling bark off tree.

I usually use a 400 mm lens with a teleconverter, the reason is just to get smoother backgrounds, other wise a 300 to 400mm lens is fine, mostly I shoot birds at f5.6 and 1/125 shutter speed, iso depending on the light but as low as possible, at these settings your not going to catch any action but like most birds when feeding they will pause to check there surroundings, get them looking into the frame. You want pictures when they don't have food covering there bill so when they first land or get ready for take off are good times for the picture.
Photo of Pileated Woodpecker on Vancouver Island.

For lighting, cloudy day's are best, thinner the clouds the better. Have your back to the sun.
Photograph of juvenile female Pileated Woodpecker on Vancouver Island.

You need to focus on the eyes, if you can't see the wrinkles in the skin around the eye that is one for the trash bin, use your off center focus points to get a good composition.

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