DIY Bird Photo Perch

This short article shares some basic instructions on how to construct a DIY (do-it-yourself) bird photo perch. There are as many options and variations for a DIY bird photo perch as there are photographers.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

All that’s needed to construct a DIY bird photo perch are a few basic components. There include materials to make a solid base, an upright stand, and some mounting material with which to attach branches.

As you can see in the image above, I used a plastic pail and some medium sized rocks as my base. A piece of pressure treated lumber served as my upright. The upright can be cut to any desired length as long as the base is sufficiently large and heavy enough to provide stability. Shoe laces or plastic ties can be used to attach branches.

The size of your base will depend on the degree of portability desired with your DIY bird photo perch. My plan was to make mine small and light enough to move around my backyard… and perhaps transport off site the odd time.

Holes can be drilled in any kind of pattern that makes sense. I chose a simple grid of 3 holes per row and about 10 rows high. I used shoe laces for a little while, then replaced them with plastic ties which provide a tighter and more secure mount.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 502 mm, efov 1004 mm, f/9, -1 EV, 1/1600, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, subject distance 6.2 metres

Some photographers incorporate a small plastic lid or bowl to hold water, seeds or other food items with which to attract birds. Typically this can be screwed onto the top of the upright and sealed with silicon if needed.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4126 pixels on the width, subject distance 6.5 metres

A wide variety of branches can be used as perch material. Many photographers like to change out their perch material based on season, or perhaps the species of bird they are planning to attract.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4764 pixels on the width, subject distance 6.5 metres

The main branch on my DIY bird photo perch is a dead branch from a corkscrew hazel in our backyard. It provides sufficient support forĀ  birds like cardinals and blue jays that visit my backyard. I also like the spacing between the branches and the curly-cue shapes of the smaller twigs. This gives the birds fewer obstructions when they fly in to land.

Currently I have my DIY bird photo perch positioned adjacent to my pond, and not too far away from a couple of bird feeders. The top of the corkscrew hazel branch is well above neighboroughing shrubs and plants. This give the birds a good vantage point from which to scout for danger.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-2500, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4296 pixels on the width, subject distance 6.5 metres

As is the case with all bird photography, shooting angle is an important consideration. As you can see with the previous three images, I was able to photograph birds using my backyard fence as a background. This isn’t necessarily ideal as the pattern of the fence boards is somewhat visible. I do have some other shooting angles that create a nice background effect, as you can see with the following photograph.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-6400, Bird Detection AI, full frame capture, subject distance 7.1 metres

It is quite common for bird photographers to use DIY bird photo perches, as well as water, seeds and other food items to attract birds. Some photographers may view the use of a DIY bird photo perch as a form of ‘cheating’. That’s a value judgement that individuals can make for themselves.

If you decide to use a DIY bird photo perch it is important to put it out for a day or two so the birds can get acclimatized to using it. My preference is to photograph birds in more natural settings. I do have my DIY bird photo perch positioned next to my pond for those occasions when I want a more controlled photographic environment. This position also allows me to capture images of birds that have landed on my DIY bird photo perch, through my kitchen window.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted. This is the 1,041st article published on this website since its original inception.

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2 thoughts on “DIY Bird Photo Perch”

  1. I found your article interesting on setting up perches with branches for birds. I would like to share what I have been doing that is quite easy. I found large fallen branches in the woods about the size of small trees. My husband drilled a hole in the bottom of the branch with a drill bit about 3/8 inch, the same size of the rod. It’s about foot long and cut at an angle on one end. After sticking it in the hole, he stuck it in the ground so the branch is upright…looks like a small dead tree. We put 4 up surrounding my bird feeding station and the birds love it! I have taken many pictures of birds on these old dead branches. My husband has moved them to other locations which is easy when the ground is soft after a rain. I would like to share a photo in this comment but not sure how. I have an Instagram account with many of my bird photos. The whole reason I started putting up branches for perches was because of hawks. They can’t swoop down and grab a bird with all those branches protecting them. The branches are about 7 or more feet tall. You can find me on Instagram #clh_photos78/

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