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Articles How to photograph Golden orioles

How to photograph Golden orioles

Orioles return from migration at the end of April or beginning of May. This depends on how cold the spring that year was, and it can vary within a week or two. There are two optimal periods to capture the oriole. The first one is at their return when they start breeding games which last for 2-3 weeks. At this time they are very active, the males regularly fly over the nesting territory and chase away intruders, attack cuckoos or sing at perches.

Golden oriole photography
© Tihomir Stefanov

The second optimal period to photograph golden oriole is when the little ones fly off and the adults feed them near the nest. This is usually from mid July until mid August and it varies among the individual pairs. At this time the offspring are often seen waiting for their parents on the perches in front of the tower. It is very interesting to observe how the young ones compete for food and the adults come to feed them. At this time you can capture them passing on grapes or mulberry to the young ones.

The photo-tower is located at the border of two or three golden oriolenesting territories, which is a premise for good bird activity. After the nesting starts the birds become secretive and are not so active during the day.

Golden oriole photography
© Tihomir Stefanov, Bulgaria

The golden oriole are most active at dawn and until 2-3 hours after sunrise. Moreover, immediately after sunrise the lighting is very good and appropriate for shooting, making this indeed the best time for shots. The warm light emphasizes the colour of the plumage. It is advisable that you get in the tower before sunrise. They can begin activity early before sunrise and if you scare them by climbing in the tower when they are already out, that may stop them from approaching the tower for a while. You can remain in to wait for them also later in the day, but the midday sun is too sharp.

Bear in mind, that during the breeding games the orioles are very active and do not remain on the same twig for long. They are very jumpy and agile. You must be very fast aiming your lens at them, but at the same time refrain from making sharp moves if you are shooting from a camouflage net; this however wouldn’t apply if shooting from behind a window glass.

Golden oriole photography
© Tihomir Stefanov, Bulgaria

How to behave in the photo-hide
Don’t let the lens stick out too much from the hide. Don’t make abrupt moves to the left or right. Don’t show your head out to look around. If you are with a friend inside, don’t show your hand outside to point out at something. Shoot in bursts of 3-4 frames at a time. The long shooting series are not advisable because the sound can scare the birds.

Because of the distance to the object, fixed or zoom lenses ranging between 200-400mm are best for action photography, and 500 mm and more are good for close-ups.

Have your tripod ready and use it. In this way you are not going to move your lens too much, your arms won’t get tired and you will not scare the birds with excessive movements.

Golden oriole photography in Bulgaria
© Sergey Panayotov, Bulgaria

Clothes and temperatures
It can become quite hot during the spring and summer periods, and it is best to wear thin cotton T-shirts and light trousers. They must be dark coloured if possible.

Before going in the hide
You must visit the toilet before going in the hide. Leaving the hide during the day can scare the bird and it may not come back to the perch any time soon. If it is very urgent you can use a bottle. Drink less water or tea during the day, and eat lighter foods like cookies or waffles so you won’t need to go out.

More photos of Golden oriole here

Suitable hides for Golden oriole:

Video of Golden oriole and other birds photography in Bulgaria.