[missbirdphotos] My new bird studio

  • From: "J. K. Cliburn" <jcliburn@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "missbirdphotos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <Missbirdphotos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2012 08:28:49 -0500

So a couple of weeks ago we had a thread here discussing a "bird
studio."  I was intrigued, so I decided to convert my driveway loop
into one.

First I had to move my birdbath and a couple of feeders away from the
front of the house, from where I could conveniently watch birds
through a big window from the comfort of my kitchen table.  Then I
read somewhere that moving/dripping water was an effective bird
attractant, so off to the store for a little pump...  I got a 60 gph
submersible pump from Home Depot for $15, but, alas, I had no power in
the driveway loop.  Sigh.  I remedied that by boring a 1-inch hole in
the front of my house, trenching across the driveway, laying 45 feet
of conduit, stringing 12-2 wire, tying into a circuit in my garage,
and installing a weatherproof riser box with an outlet and a switch
out in the loop.  Presto: power for the pump.  (Have you priced Romex
recently?  Yikes!)

The drippers at the store were too expensive for my tastes -- and they
weren't suited for a birdbath anyway -- so I went to a nearby
canebrake, harvested a couple of stalks, and fashioned a dripper out
of cane segments.  Works like a charm.

I wanted a rustic look, so I rejiggered my platform feeder by removing
it from its 4x4 post in the front yard, removing the roof, mounting it
on an old pine knot fencepost, and made an insert out of 1x2 and
window screen to allow water to drain through the seed when it's
installed in the platform.  I then found some elm limbs and mounted
one to the feeder for a perch.  I sat the other one on the ground over
a cast iron plant.

Next, I went into the woods and found a deadfall white oak trunk that
had broken in a few places and used my chainsaw to cut off a couple of
"stumps."  I found a deadfall elm limb with a nice bend in it that I
used to lean against one of the pine trees.  I bored some 1-inch holes
in it and inserted peanuts, hoping for jays or woodpeckers.  (None
have partaken yet.)

Finally, I erected the Ameristep doghouse blind, which my poor wife
finds appalling, but I argue we live in the country and don't get many
refined visitors anyway, so what harm can it be?

Yesterday was my first attempt at photography in the studio.  The
highlight of the day was an early morning, dew-drenched Indigo bunting
who surprised me sufficiently to cause me miss a shot when he was on
the perch.  I settled for a feeder sidewall shot.  I also got a
cardinal and a chipping sparrow in the evening, but unfortunately they
weren't on the perch, either.  (BTW, It gets HOT inside that blind
when the sun shines on it -- even on a cool, windy day!)  I was
pleased to finally get good feather detail using only a 300mm lens
(without teleconverter, because I wanted to open up to f4).  I'm not
pleased with the Chipping sparrow detail, but he was in harsh light,
so that probably explains it.  The cardinal and bunting were in
diffuse light, and those seemed to turn out much better.

So, thanks to Missbird photogs, I now have a studio!  I'd be happy to
receive suggestions for improvements and additions.


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