Rob Read from Bird Photographer of the Year gives us his top tips for bringing the birds to you

Attracting birds into your garden

1. Set up a bird feeder

Establish the most common species in the vicinity of your garden and set up a feeding station to target those you most want to photograph. Individual species show a preference for certain foods – try sunflower hearts for chaffinch and greenfinch, niger seeds for goldfinch, peanuts for jay and general scraps for blackbirds.

2. Where to place your bird feeder

Consider the position of your feeding area carefully to make the best use of light for photography and to reduce the risk of attracting the attention of predators such as cats and sparrowhawks. In the open not too far from the safety of cover is normally the best option.

3. Strategic planning

Observe how the birds use the feeding area and adapt it to suit the photographs you want to take. Train them by blocking up feeder ports or placing strategic perches beside feeders. The more predictable you make their behaviour, the easier it will be to photograph them.

4. Stealthy approach

Hides are an effective way of concealing yourself and getting close to your subject without disturbance. But time and patience can be equally effective, as garden birds can become accustomed to human presence relatively quickly and tolerate a stealthy approach, particularly during the winter months.

Find out more about Bird Photographer of the Year at


Photograph: TransformersMan


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