If you’ve got any kind of greenery around your home, the birds will be there. Especially now in the spring. Practise on whatever comes around your home. It Doesn’t have to be an exotic rarity. In the right light, all birds make beautiful subjects. Crows, seagulls, robins, chickadees, they all count!
You can start to learn good birding habits from the safety of your home. When do they come? Do different species come at different times, into different places? Do they congregate? Can you pick out the gender? Is it an adult or juvenile? Breeding or non-breeding plumage? If you’re lucky enough to have a nest nearby, you may be able to see babies. Listen for the different calls they make. Can You identify by call alone? Get a birding book or app, or maybe both. I find it's helpful to have several sources of information.
Also, work on your camera technique. Can you follow a bird as it flits around the branches? Can you keep it in focus? Do you need to over or under-expose to get the right light on the subject?
It's best to get some basic settings down before you start pushing the shutter button. Take a couple of shots of the background and check for proper exposure and focus in the areas where the birdmay go. Deep in the greenery, you may need some overexposure to get a bright enough subject. This is a good time to check your ISO to see how high you are willing to go, considering the noise you may get. A sharp grainy shot is better than a smooth blurry one. There isn’t really much you can do when the shot is too soft. You want to get enough light on the bird to notice the colours for better identification, later on.
I spent a good while following this Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Myrtle) around in my viewfinder. The light was bright but not too glaring. I took a lot of shots to get it in the right light and composition. As a general rule, pick an aperture around f4-f8 for the best depth-of-field. A really wide aperture will make it hard to keep the bird in focus. Keep shooting, and get as many different compositions as you can.
Once we can safely get back together, I look forward to seeing you at one of our birding walks!