Ever wonder how some photographers just always seem to know the best locations to photograph birds? Time and time again you see their photographs pop up on places like Facebook. Time and time again you sit there wondering just where in the heck are they finding these places.
When it comes to photographing birds, or any kind of wildlife for that matter, not all locations are created equally. If you have ever set out to photograph shorebirds for instance, you have probably noticed that certain beaches, mudflats, or shorelines jus always tend to be more productive than others. Location is everything.
I am going to give away a really big secret. There are places in your state that are just exploding with bird photography opportunities and yet few if any photographers may even know about these places. You can research your subject, mine Facebook and other online forums for locations, and join camera clubs – yet still you will probably not learn about these locations. Ornithologists, researchers, and certain key conservation groups on the other hand have long known about these places. They have even gone as far to compile these places into a database complete with key in for,action on species, times of year, etc. . . Birders know about these places, and these lists, but you probably don’t.
These locations are known as Audubon Important Bird Areas, or just IBAs for short. These locations are the Meccas for birds, and the Audubon society compiles lists for every state. These things are a treasure trove of information for the ambitious bird photographer.
This isn’t just for Florida bird photographers. North Carolina for instance has 144 different IBAs, and let me tell you, some of these places are kick ass bird photography hotspots where you will never see another person. Each and every state is like this. Even Wyoming, a state that is not typically on the radar for bird photographers holds 44 IBAs. All that it takes is a little reading and some motivation to explore.
Do a Google search for your state and Audubon Important Bird Areas and see what you have been missing out on. Some state chapters of Audubon simply have online databases. Others however, such as North Carolina, have gone as far as to compile these IBAs into user friendly eBook. You can check out North Carolina’s eBook here: