For great bird photography, use your ears first

Canon Nordics have teamed up with Ambassador Jonas Classon to help aspiring bird photographers learn calls that will help them take the perfect shot.
A white bird with a black head comes in to land against a blurred fiery golden background, which looks like sunset. Its legs are outstretched and wings raised above its body.
Cathrine Stenemyr_headshot.

Written by Cathrine Stenemyr

Channel Business Developer – Nordic Customer & Trade Marketing team

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
It’s a beautiful quote and one that has been attributed to poets and playwrights alike, but the origin doesn’t particularly matter, it is the meaning that resonates. After all, who has not enjoyed the sound of the rain, thrilled at sudden thunder or yearned to rise to gentle sunshine and birdsong? During the pandemic, many of us understandably turned to nature for comfort, and birdwatching in particular soared. Cornell University reported that use of their ‘eBird’ app doubled in at least 26 countries in 2020.
And while you might expect this trend to reverse as time goes on, it seems that little has changed and many of us are now in the habit of getting out and about in nature. It is, of course, an acknowledged way to improve health and wellbeing – it can be a superb way to boost mood and provide gentle exercise. And birdsong itself is highly therapeutic, which would explain why so many of us turned to it at a time when stress and worry was at its peak. But there is also some evidence to suggest that the act of seeking and identifying birds can actually increase mental alertness. It’s nature’s own brain-training app! So, even if you are unable to regularly head out to a local park or green space, you can still benefit if you are able to attract birds with a feeder.

The head and neck of a Common Tern. It has a white body and black and brown crown, with a brown-tipped bright red beak. It has its beak open.

The Common Tern © Jonas Classon

The white head and neck of a Whooper Swan. Its beak is orange, trimmed with black and its head is hitting the water, sending droplets flying into the air.

The Whooper Swan © Jonas Classon

Even travel operators are now being increasingly asked for specialist birdwatching tours. Wildlife tourism has always been incredibly popular. However, it seems that in a world that moves at breakneck speed, people are looking for opportunities to purposefully slow down and look around them. Of course, birds don’t slow down for anyone, so it can be tricky to spot and identify the source of the song, and this is where photography can be an essential tool for fledgling birdwatchers. But when you’re out in a field or forest, quietly trying to capture the bird that’s been eluding you for weeks, it’s not only important to know what to look for – you need to know what to listen for.
This is a dilemma that Canon Nordics have been tackling with one of Europe’s most celebrated bird photographers. Award-winning Swedish photographer and Canon Ambassador Jonas Classon has an enviable reputation for capturing spectacular wildlife shots. He is responsible for Night Hunter, the famous image of a great grey owl, poised for attack in front of a full moon. Jonas kindly took a Canon EOS R7 out one early May morning and took some helpful footage of four birds with very distinctive calls – the Common Tern, the Coot, the Wagtail and the Whooper Swan. These short videos are hosted on their own easy-to-reference webpage, which budding bird photographers can use to learn the calls that will give them those crucial few seconds before they’re in the right spot.
Photographers are invited via Instagram to tag #canonnordic in their birdwatching photos for a chance to have them shared with their 87,000 followers. Canon Nordic are also showcasing all the ways in which the EOS R7 can help aspiring bird photographers to take that perfect shot:

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF II recognises and tracks animals
  • 8-stop Image Stabilization can handle long exposure images and motion
  • Full HD up to 120p will give you the smoothest flight in slow motion
  • Quiet and fast continuous shooting up to 30 FPS, which avoids scaring birds before you get a chance to take the shot

Let’s not to forget that birdwatchers form a huge and global community. It makes sense, as birdwatching, listening and sharing all speak to our most basic needs as humans – health, wellbeing and connection. Is it any wonder that it’s such a well-loved hobby?
Do you know your Wagtail from your Whooper Swan? Head over to the webpage and start your bird photography journey.


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