Hello Young Nature Photographers!

In this post I’ll share a few of my photos of birds in winter and offer some tips on how to take them.

Around here in winter (I live in Guelph, Ontario) there are lots of winter birds to be found and photographed. A recent bird count found 70 different species in one day! 

You may have different birds where you live. If so, I’d love to see them! You can share your best winter bird photos on Instagram with the hashtag #focusonnaturechallenge.


Northern Cardinal


With his bright red coat, the Northern cardinal is one of the easiest birds to see when you’re out for a walk in winter.  Be sure to have a zoom lens on your camera to get a close up shot like this. Using a telephoto or a long zoom lens can also blur the background and help make your subject really stand out.

Black-capped Chickadee


Another bird that’s hard to miss in winter is Black-capped chickadee. Fill up your bird-feeder with black oil seed and you’ll have chickadees coming to visit all winter long.

Remember to dress for the cold when you’re outside. Wearing layers will help you stay warm when you are waiting patiently to get your shots.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied woodpecker is a woodland bird that you’ll often hear before you see. To get closer to this woodpecker (or to any bird) I moved slowly but not directly towards it with my camera held up hiding my eyes. It seemed to work and I got a few nice shots and some video before it flew.

American Robin

At warmer times of the year, we often see robins looking and listening for worms in our lawns. But in winter when the ground is frozen what is a robin to do? To survive the winter, robins switch their diet to berries still hanging from trees and shrubs.

When composing a photo of a bird, or of any animal, remember to leave a little more room in front of it so we can see where it is looking or going.

Mallard Ducks

Mallard ducks are easy to find on ponds and along rivers and streams. The males have shiny green heads and bright yellow beaks, while females sport shades of brown for camouflage when they are sitting on a nest.  If mallards swim towards you, instead of away, they probably think you have something for them to eat!

Blue Jay

Some Blue jays fly south in winter while others stick around if they have a good source of food. They are a woodland bird but will come to a feeder or a fence railing if you put out some peanuts for them.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Some birds, like this White-breasted nuthatch, will come to your hand for seeds. They only stay for a split second, so be sure to have your camera ready and pre-focused. Set it to burst mode to get multiple shots and a high shutter speed to freeze the wings when they take off.

Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed hawk is commonly seen along roadways, sitting on fence-posts and telephone poles. This one landed in a tree near me. I pulled out my camera and every time he turned his head away I moved a little closer and took another shot. Eventually the game was up and he flew away.

I want to thank our friends at Wild Birds Unlimited in Guelph for their ongoing support of the Focus on Nature program. As a Canadian registered charity, every dollar donated will give more children the opportunity to connect with nature through photography!