Pacific Black ducklings somehow manage to match the paddling speed of the adults. That’s an adult bird in the second photo.
A one-day-old Purple Swamphen chick peers out of a tiny gap in the reeds surrounding its nest. An adult bird is shown in the next pic.
When Dusky Moorhen chicks are young they resemble black tennis balls.
A cygnet and the creature it grows into: a Black Swan
A gosling and a goose from the same flock
A young Wood Duck and some typical mature specimens
Darter chicks and an adult Darter
A Eurasian Coot chick and adult
A Noisy Miner chick shown alongside an adult
Brush Turkey chick shown with the bird it grows into
One-day-old Masked Lapwing chick shown alongside an adult
Young and old freshwater turtles
There’s no doubting that baby birds are cute, but taking their photos involves a bit of thought and care.
When birds are nesting, they can be extremely nervous. And who can blame them? Their entire survival as a species depends on their fragile offspring living long enough to produce a new generation. That has big implications on how you photograph them.
For starters, I always closely watch the behaviour of the parents. If it changes in any way while I’m around then I back off. You see, some birds are so easily spooked that if you frighten them at this stressful time then they might even abandon their young altogether. I’d much rather get no shot at all, than a shot of a chick that was going to die because of me frightening the parents away.
So how did I get these pics?
Well, for some of them I used hides. In other cases, I took the photos in public places like parks. The cool thing about parks is that the birds are already used to people being around. Even then, I watched the parents and didn’t get very close.
I also used my longest telephoto lens.
Sometimes the birds were partly obscured by a few leaves. In those cases I tried to photograph ‘through’ the leaves. Now I should rephrase that. My camera is not some X-ray thing that can see through solid objects. But if the foreground leaves are sufficiently out of focus then you can often see through the blurred edges.
I’ve heard of some photographers cutting away any foliage that gets in the way of their shot but I absolutely will not do that. You see, that foliage is not only concealing the young from camera lenses — it is also concealing them from predators. So the photographer might get a fancy shot and then leave the nest in full view of a hungry monitor lizard.
I’ve taken thousands of photos of birds but not many photos of nesting birds. And the things I describe above are some of the reasons for that.