Last but not least, there are the National Wildlife Refuges. Places like Bosque del Apache in central New Mexico have been known to be a bird photographers dream location.
No matter where you live, if you study, are informed and patient, you can find birds to photograph. To make it even easier I've got some guaranteed places to get you started.
Five places where you will almost certainly find birds to photograph...
1. Bosque del Apache, N.M., – this used to be the top bird hotspot in the west. Climate change along with some refuge managers who don’t appreciate photographers have turned the place into a hit or miss location but it’s still worth a look. Bosque del Apache (Woods of the Apache) is a 57,191- acre national wildlife refuge, 18 miles south of Socorro, N.M. More than 300 species of birds migrate to Bosque each year. Its a prime place to photograph blue herons, mallards, snowy egrets, sandhill cranes, roadrunners, Ross, Canadian and snow geese, bald eagles, Coopers and red-tailed hawks, and wild turkeys. Few places in the United States can deliver a greater concentration of birds and wildlife.
The migrating geese and cranes start arriving in earnest at the refuge in November. On any visit between mid-November and early January, you’ll see tens of thousands of birds. Visit www.friendsofthebosque.org for more information.
The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.
The 5200 acre (21 km2) refuge was established in 1976, to protect one of the country's largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystems. The refuge is well known for its migratory bird populations. It’s almost impossible to visit this place in the late winter or early spring and not find birds.
3. The Alligator Farm, – St. Augustine, Fla., is an amazing place that offers bird photographers a chance to photograph birds in breeding plumage from as close as four feet. In late spring and early summer, you can photograph baby chicks at arms length. The birds nest here because of the alligators, who keep predators away from their nests. By the way, The Alligator Farm boasts every type of alligator and crocodile found in the world. The place is extremely photographer friendly. At the time of this writing, a yearly pass with early entry is only $60.
4. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – in Tucson is more like a zoo than a museum. If you are patient, you can get shots of flickers poking holes in the aviarys resident cactus. They also have captive raptors that you may be able to photograph depending on the time of year and circumstances.
5. San Diego Wild Animal Park/Zoo – is a great place to photograph birds. Avoid the special photo tour, since it is not really geared toward photographers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Scott Bourne is a member of The Board Of Advisors at Macphun, an Olympus Visionary and a professional wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He was one of the founders of This Week In Photo, Founded Photofocus.com and is co-founder of the new Photo Podcast Network (photopodcasts.com.)
Scott is a regular contributor to several photography related blogs and podcasts and is the author of 11 photography books.
Scott is available to speak to your birding group, photography group and for both private and small group bird photography workshops. For more information on engaging Scott as a speaker or workshop leader, or for image licensing and print information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.