How many images of Shrikes and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers do you see on barbed wire fences?
It’s rare when you see images of those species on natural perches. Most photographers tend to be content with images of them on wire fences, as they feel that is where the birds hang out.
For me, I believe if man had not introduced fences into their habitat, then you would see them on natural perches, so that is always my goal: To have no “Hand-of-Man” in my images.
I want to be up front before I go into how I tackle this problem. This is a low percentage shot. It does not work all the time, but when it does, you have a unique and hard to get image.
In Texas during the fall migration, we get hundreds to thousands of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers staging on the Upper Texas Coast waiting for North winds to carry them on their journey South.
On some days you can see dozens and dozens of Flycatchers on wire fences on most coastal roads. This was the case on the day I did this setup. The number of birds increased my odds of pulling this off.
The next step, choose a nice perch. Try to find one that is firm and of the same diameter as the barbed wire.
To increase the chances of getting the bird on the perch and not on the wire, grab clumps of grass and lay them along the wire.
Once everything is in place, set the camera and lens up to shoot out of your car window (Scissor-tails are very comfortable with cars getting close.)
I got lucky with the bird landing at last light as the wind dropped. When there is no wind the Scissor-tails will drop their tail making a more pleasing image.
Nikon D300s, 600 MM, ISO 250, f8, 1/160.
This set-up can be done in about 10 minutes and can yeild some unique and fun photo opportunities.
Remember to bring your zip ties, pruning shears and some patience.