A Bird’s Eye View

Focus on the eyes…I remember reading that advice in a photography book (probably by Peterson or Kelby) and it has proven to be of great benefit in taking bird pictures.

I find that my favorite photos are the ones that manage to capture a bit of personality in the bird’s eyes.  So, when I am sorting through pictures (like the couple hundred I took this weekend) and trying to choose which ones to share, I tend to discard those where the eyes seem dull.  On the other hand, if the eyes look sharp (even if other parts of the image are flawed or fuzzy) the picture will likely be posted.

Take this Towhee for example.  Even though the picture is cluttered, there is just something compelling about his eye.


Same thing as this Carolina Wren.  Parts of the picture are a bit blurry, but the expression in his eye makes me smile.  Everything about this little fellow is perky!



And it you can get a clear eye and a drippy beak…


…or a tongue sticking out…


…or a peanut being confiscated…


…well, that’s just a bonus!

Some birds, like Chickadees, that have dark eyes surrounded by dark feathers, are especially challenging.  I’m always thrilled when I get a picture (or two) that shows a lively gleam.  I can’t decide if this little guy looks cheerful or mischievous, or if like me, he is cheerful because he’s being mischievous!



Other birds, like Tufted Titmice, are difficult because they are furtive and move so fast that it’s hard (for me anyway) to get the eyes looking crisp and clear.


It’s always fun when you snap a photo where the look in the eye (and the tilt of the head) clearly conveys a bird’s curiosity.  I think Buber’s quote is true – “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”


towhee2I’d love to go on posting pictures…like of this female Cardinal…


…or this Brown-headed Nuthatch…


but I don’t want to be a blog hog!  Besides, I think you get the idea:  If you want to take captivating bird pictures, try to get a bird’s eye view of the bird’s eye in your viewfinder!


16 thoughts on “A Bird’s Eye View

  1. Wow! If I have time, maybe I’ll have the pleasure of sketching these later. Bravo once again, Kathy! I think you’re on to something with the focus on the eyes. I do the same when attempting to capture a bird (or any creature) on paper. That’s the first thing we look at. And I agree, the personal it shines through. Thanks for sharing your gift for photography with us!

  2. From the beginning of my serious bird photography that was the criteria my dad (who taught me most of what I know) used to determine a “good” picture. Can you see the eyeball clearly? No? Throw it out. Yes? Post it! Love your personality-filled pictures too! One of my favorite things about shooting live subjects is the opportunity to find that sparkle of fun.
    Happy shooting and good luck on those Titmice eyes! 🙂

  3. Good advice, which I have never read before, but intuitively tried to do. You have lots of beautiful eyes here. Great shots!

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