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myBlog » Blog Archive » Getting the White-tipped Dove up on a Rock

Getting the White-tipped Dove up on a Rock

The White-tipped Dove is a speciality bird of the Rio-Grande Valley in Texas. It can only be found in this part of the US.

I have always set myself a goal to get ground feeding birds like Quail, Dove etc up on a stump or rock when I photograph them.

This is a low percentage shot, but if it can be pulled off, the results are worth it.

Getting the bird on a stump or rock will put your background much futher away, rendering a nice smooth out-of-focus backdrop.

An out-of-focus background will be less distracting and allow the bird to really stand out.

After many years of experimanting with this challenge, I figured out that the best way to get the birds up on your elevated set-up is to build a ramp on the back.

You would think that the birds would just hop up on the rock or stump to get to your bait/food, but if you offer them a ramp, they will rather walk up. I guess it takes less energy to walk up than it does to hop. It also allows the bird to go slow and check out what is on top of the rock, rather than just jumping up and taking a chance.

Below is an image of me teaching participants at a workshop. You can see the piece of wood that I used as a ramp. You can also see the rock and the wildflowers that I placed of the front of the rock.

Below is the final result, shot in sweet morning light. All workshop participants got this same image.

For my April 12-15, 2010 workshop, we plan to do many set-ups like this one, especially with the Quail.

I only take four participants on my workshops and I have just one opening for this one.

If you are interested in joining me, you can get more details here.

10 Responses to “Getting the White-tipped Dove up on a Rock”

  1. Jan Says:

    I like your pose on the first image ;)
    The look of your face is awesome :D
    Awesome job of getting the dove up there :)

  2. Alfredo Fernandez Says:

    Hey,
    i´ve bought your new E-book..
    but im in peru right now..(live here) and im waiting for my mum to bring it to me…but how did you make the dove the get up there,…why would the dove wanted to be up there..??
    im 16 and im just starting..is a 300mm AFS F4 (nikkor) good enough or should i buy the 80-400
    thanks
    a

  3. Alan Says:

    Hey Alfredo,

    Thanks for buying the CD.

    The dove was trying to get the seed that I placed on top of the rock ;-)

    For birds, the longer the focal length, the better. If you like bird photography, it’s only a matter of time before you end up with a 500 or 600.

    Cheers, Alan.

  4. Alfredo Fernandez Says:

    Hey Alan,
    thank for the respond :D
    but for my buged..
    is the 300mm F4 + TC14E a good option..im also going to buy a tripod and a ball head.
    Its hard to get that amound of money for someone that is 16 years old and live in a not so rich country..
    i thin thats the way to go :D
    I will tell you my thoughts about your CD as soon as im able to read it..
    Thanks a lot..
    your one of my biggest inspirations :D
    Cheers,
    Alfredo

  5. Jan Says:

    Alan, where do you place the seeds on the rock to avoid having the dove from only looking down or shwoing you the tail?
    At the top and hope for a head up pose, or did the doves use that perch anyways when going up to the feeder?

  6. Alan Says:

    Hey Jan, no special placement of the seed. I placed some on top of the ramp and a little on top of the rock. Once they get up there they just move around and you wait for the right pose.

  7. Brenda Says:

    I love your work. I have your book and have really enjoyed it. I was wondering if you have any secrets for attracting and taking pictures of roadrunners? I live in South Tex on a ranch and seem to be able to get plenty pictures of all the different kinds of birds here, but would love to get some better roadrunner pictures. Any help would be appreciated.

  8. Alan Says:

    Hey Brenda, I’m in South Texas runnning a workshop now. Roadrunners respond to playback (their call) very well, if your comfortable with that. That’s the only thing that I know that works. I heard some this morning calling, so any time over the next two months should be good.

    Thanks for buying the book, and good luck with the RR.

    Alan

  9. Brenda Says:

    Alan,
    Thanks for the heads-up. I didn’t think about a call. I will have to check into that. Can you buy them like you can a coyote call or deer call? Today was beautiful for pictures, just maybe a little windy here. Good luck with your workshop!!! I hope the weather cooperates.

  10. Alan Says:

    Brenda, you can buy the bird songs of the Rio-Grande valley on CD. Most people put that into Itunes and upload it to an Ipod.
    http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Lower-Grande-Valley-Southwestern/dp/B0002PU562

    Best, Alan.

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