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What are the Best Bird Photography Destinations?

Bird photographers can have it tough, with the discipline requiring enormous lenses, amounts of patience, and travel to get the best images of some of the world's most interesting and elusive birds. But where are the best, must-see locations?

I haven't done a great deal of bird photography. While I enjoy it, it requires specialized kit that I don't own and would never use outside of rare trips to locations where birding might be on the cards. However, I have done bird photography while testing equipment for manufacturers, and in a few places which are stunning for wildlife. One of these was Norway, which Jan Wegener mentions in this video, but the other isn't mentioned.

Costa Rica is different from most entries on Wegener's list, but is by far my favorite location for wildlife photography, which includes birds. Despite shooting there for less than a week, I saw and photographed toucans, different colored macaws, falcons, vultures, and a whole host of river birds. It was thoroughly addictive and there was always a bird to be spotted and photographed.

I'm not sure why it isn't one of the most popular bird photography locations — perhaps it is — but I could have spent months there taking thousands of images per day of the feathered locals.

Where do you think is the best location for bird photography?

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6 Comments

Robert Lype's picture

One of the most overlooked birding destinations is Alaska which is better known for the large mammals such as moose and bears. As for the birds there are numerous migratory birds large and small that visit annually for breeding due to the abundance of food along with plenty of remote areas for nesting.
Even in the urban of Alaska bird photography is popular due to all the green space and close proximity of environments which attract all type of birds. One which always surprises me is the humming birds.
For instance here in Fairbanks there is a 2200 acre wildlife refuge which attracts thousands of waterfowl at one time twice a year.
After years various positions in the photographic field my expirence has my lead me to photo guiding which has enlighten me on the abundance of bird related photography in the state. The first thought to come to mind was wow this is going to be a challange until leading a group of birders from Germany.
Keep in mind birding opportunities are not only in the summer but also winter
As for the gear required it becoming increasingly difficult to find local camera shops near popular birding area which rent long lenses do the popularity of online shopping. As a photojournalist the gear used in birding is the similar to the gear used in sports just getting to the gear from city to city can be a hassle if your flying. Shipping your gear via FedEx is the best option if for only one reason you can insure it for replacement value

Steve Powell's picture

In Southern California, San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. It's in the city of Orange very close to UC Irvine.

M M's picture

Costa Rica is just a dream for wildlife photographers.

In California the Sacramento National Wildlife is very good in the winter.

Adam Rubinstein's picture

Care to define "best"? In terms of numbers, variety, proximity, etc.? Depending on these factors, it could be a lot of destinations around the world. Yes, CR has a huge variety of bird species though if one were intrigued with raptors, it wouldn't be my first choice. Rather than best, I would suggest a broader list taking into account the aforementioned factors.

Mark Myers's picture

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, California

David Illig's picture

I try to avoid indefensible words like “best.” The mid-Atlantic coast, particularly both shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in Maryland and Virginia, is a marvelous place for birding. It is in the midst of migration routes for hundreds of species, and has year-round residents, as well.