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Page 1 Darren McKenna

Written By onci on Sunday, August 2, 2009 | 6:55 PM

Bird Recordings, by Darren

I have been fascinated with birds since I was a young boy who got to go out hunting pheasants with my Dad back in 1967. In the late 90’s I tried capturing birds with a point and shoot camera.

I was always amazed at the bird images I viewed online, how do these guys do it I often asked my self. The realization that I needed better gear to get a successful image marked my foray into serious bird photography. By 2006 I had the gear, however my first attempts were not what I had hoped for, in fact they were down right awful. I knew I needed to learn more about my subjects so I persevered and worked very hard at getting better images.

There was days however that I became rather frustrated with my subjects. Often they would not cooperate at all and I would spend hour after hour with out any action or results. Then a friend and fellow bird photographer Mark Schiebelbein introduced me to Birdjam, software that loads and organizes bird songs onto an ipod enabling you to easily play them back with external speakers. The Stokes Western collection alone has over 550 species on it. The first time I tried it was with Common Yellowthroats and in one day I was able to get better images then what I was able to in two weeks of trying prior to using the recordings. We have since successfully photographed Rock Wrens and many other species that are tough to get in the open.

My knowledge of bird songs has increased immensely over the last few months since I began using Birdjam and often my youngest son and I will use it to quiz each other, so it is a great teaching tool as well.

Of course one needs to have ethics when using such a program. I have witnessed times where a bird becomes stressed and begins pacing and acting rather erratically. In cases like this simply turning it off and moving on is the best solution. If you asked three different photographers how they feel about using sound recordings you probably would get three different answers. It is each individual’s own code of ethics that should guide him or her into deciding whether or not to use bird recordings

Darren McKenna.
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