Wildlife Photography from the Midwest USA

Waiting for The Crouch

More than most things, I find fun in photographing birds in flight. It’s that silent, seemingly effortless grace that makes them so wonderful to view. Still, the photograph of them in the air can be a bit bland because of that featureless background of sky and no foreground elements for scale. One solution is to get them right at lift off.

All of the big birds (herons, egrets, gulls, even the ducks) will crouch and then jump to aid in take off. The little ones (warblers, finches, sparrows) do the same thing but it happens so quickly that my reflexes are no match for their speed. That’s why the egrets and herons are my favorites for this exercise.

When it’s time to take off, they may or may not look around to check the air space or choose a direction. Then, over the course of one-half of one second, they’ll go through these motions:

From a standing position they enter into the crouch…


They spring upward, spread their wings, then pull them down for thrust…


Just then, they become airborne and the photograph appears.
You’ve only got 1/2-second, so you’d better be ready!

Lift Offsm






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