Random Thoughts

Don't Forget to Look UP When Photographing Birds by Todd Henson

Great Blue Heron flying away from the scene of the crime.

WARNING: This topic, though light-hearted, may not appeal to all viewers. But it does teach an important lesson if you photograph birds in the wild.

I love photographing birds, especially when I’m able to document birds in flight. But there is at least one potential downside to this activity, something that could ruin your day if you’re not careful to avoid it.

A Great Blue Heron. Such a beautiful bird. And yet... see the photo further below.

What am I talking about? Why is the title of this post, “Don’t Forget to Look UP When Photographing Birds?” Well, birds often defecate while in flight, or just before taking flight. And it’s not fun to be on the receiving end of this.

I feel sorry for any poor paddler in the river below this Great Blue Heron! Click on the image for a larger view. Go ahead, I dare you!

Thankfully, I’ve never been on the receiving end of a Great Blue Heron or Bald Eagle. As you can see in these photographs they can make quite a mess. But I have been hit by a Canada Goose flying overhead. It was so low I almost felt the air from its wings. Geese mostly eat plant matter so what I was hit with was fairly solid and didn’t make much of a mess. But birds that eat fish, animals or insects aren’t as easy to clean up from. I have been hit by a smaller song bird. Not fun.

So what’s my advice?

Don't stand too close when looking up at Bald Eagles! Not sure what you're seeing? Click on the image to see a larger version.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Try to determine the birds typical flight path, or places they commonly perch. You can’t plan everything, there’s always a chance one will fly over you, but being aware of where they may fly or perch at least gives you a chance of avoiding any bad encounters. If you see one heading your way just be aware of what might happen and be ready to move. The odds should be fairly low, but it does happen.
  • Learn the behavior of the birds you’re observing. Many birds, such as Bald Eagles and Osprey, will often defecate before taking flight. So be careful if you are observing a perched bird from down below, especially if it begins to left its tail feathers. They have more range than you might think!
  • Always wear a hat! Your clothes may still be a mess but at least it will help protect your head. When the goose let loose it hit my hat and backpack and mostly bounced off. No real harm done. When I was hit by the song bird I wasn’t wearing a hat. I had to clean off my hair, the side of my face, and my sunglasses. And all this in the middle of a busy city. Not my best day, but hey, “it” happens!
  • Always carry a towel or cloth of some kind with you, just in case you might need it. It’s not fun cleaning up this kind of mess without a cloth, trust me!
  • Bring some of that portable hand wash with you. Wiping it off is one thing, but getting yourself clean is nice, too.

Well, that’s it for today. I apologize for the somewhat unappealing topic, but it does happen and it’s best to plan ahead in case it ever happens to you. And worst case, if it does happen, you’ll have quite the story you never want to tell your friends about! 😀

Have fun out there. Enjoy photographing nature. And always remember: Look UP when photographing birds!!!

I hope you enjoyed this post. If so you can subscribe to my email list to hear about new content. I typically send an email each week and you can easily unsubscribe if it’s no longer to your liking.


Just Below The Surface by Todd Henson

Just Below the Surface

Just below the surface of a small lake a young turtle follows her mother towards a pair of koi. The koi appear to pay as little attention to the turtles as do the turtles to the koi. Each group swims in their own world, though one they share.

The young turtle’s only thoughts are of its mother. When the mother stops moving forward the small turtle moves around to face its mother, nose to nose, moving both front legs forward as if to hug its mother.

The koi continue slowly gliding through the water, their bodies creating beautiful curves. They very likely are waiting for food from those of us above.

Two different worlds, above and below, and yet all still part of the same. These are my thoughts as I watch these wonderful creatures just below the surface.


Over the Bridge Through the Woods by Todd Henson

Over the Bridge Through the Woods. Click on the image for a larger view.


A bridge in the woods, spanning a small dry stream bed.

A couple out walking, over the bridge through the woods.

Trees in the woods, seemingly reaching out towards the couple.

To embrace? Or to restrain?


Today’s photograph is of Jordan Pond Bridge in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The bridge crosses Jordan Stream, which flows into nearby Jordan Pond. This bridge, and many others in the park, are part of a network of carriage roads built between 1913 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Jordan Pond Bridge, as seen on the side of the bridge, was completed in 1920.

I highly recommend visiting Acadia National Park if you ever have the opportunity. It is a beautiful park, full of amazing sights. But it can get very crowded during the busy season, so plan accordingly.

I took some artistic license with this image, converting it to black and white and dodging and burning very liberally. I softened much of the background, trying to give the impression of a light layer of fog, or a slight sense of unreality. I wanted to embrace the mystery within the image. Let me know whether or not I was successful. Would you have done anything differently?



The resources below contain affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.