Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, contests and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Setting up a drip system for photographing migrant birds

drip system
Male Baltimore Orioles vie for space on a branch in Galveston County, Texas. The birds were attracted to the spot with a nearby water drip. Photo by Brian E. Small

For me, there is nothing quite as exciting in bird photography as sitting in a photo blind and listening to the sweet sound of flowing water. When spring has sprung, I know that this beautiful sound will bring with it the birds I love to photograph the most. The arrival of spring in the United States also means the arrival of our neotropical migrants as they return from south of the border.

The color, beauty, and diversity of North America’s migrant passerines are hard to match. Our warblers, tanagers, orioles, thrushes, vireos, buntings, flycatchers, grosbeaks, and many others travel hundreds or thousands of miles from their southern wintering areas to their northern breeding grounds and then back again. During migration, they need important stopover areas to feed and rest so they can refuel their energy supply and continue their journey. By knowing where and when to anticipate these tired and hungry migrants, you can easily set up a portable water-drip system and hope to photograph some of them along their northbound journeys.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a BirdWatching member to access our first-rate articles and columns on bird ID and photography as well as quarterly webinars hosted by experts in the field.

Read our newsletter!

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, and more delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up for Free
Brian E. Small

Brian E. Small

Brian Small is a Los Angeles-based bird and nature photographer whose photos appear in the “ID Tips” column in every issue of BirdWatching. His work has been published in Time, The New York Times, Audubon, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, and many other publications. His photos also illustrate many field guides, including Kenn Kaufman’s Birds of North America, a series of state bird identification guides published with the American Birding Association, and his own Eastern and Western photographic field guides to the birds of North America published in 2009 with author Paul Sterry and Princeton University Press.

Brian E. Small on social media