It seems easier to explain the Greek origins of that word than to shed light on how meaningful it can be for some of us to be able to get out to see birds at work, play, competition, and constantly at dinner. Remember the camera! Missing an amazing sight is a lesson in “Don’t leave home without it,” no matter how quick the errand.

Narrowing a list of suggestions and thoughts for a column about birding photography is motivation to write a book — illustrated with photos!

Backyard Birding: Living where your yard attracts a variety of birds to watch is fortunate. Do you know passersby might stop to enjoy your birds in trees and on feeders? I might have photographed one of them during a drive. Like gardeners who create attractive yards for others to appreciate, thank you for the view! Check the photos from my recent visits to the yards of several friends.

Birding photography can be quite a teacher: identifying species; finding the unusual; endless opportunities to learn patience! No photographer can pose bird parents with the brood, asking them to smile as they say, “Worms!” Woodpeckers always seem to be on the back of the tree. Half the time a bird is where we have to look into the sun which produces a washed-out picture. Patience is as common to birding as is seeing another Starling!

Being ready is a photographer’s challenge. Keep batteries charged. Check settings. Read and reread the manual! Keep the camera close at hand — or in it. Start shooting even as you focus. If the bird flies, you might have one quick shot that helps with identification — or evidence of an exciting sighting! If birds aren’t around, practice photographing fast insects, bees, or butterflies.

A camera’s make is not as important as the quality of the lens. Saving to buy a second-hand Sigma 150-500mm lens made a big difference with sharp focus. Despite its weight and size, I manually focus — and take lots of pics using burst mode to be sure to get at least one decent shot — maybe with an unexpected look at its tongue — or a mate joining it … to mate!

Undeniably, luck plays a part. Often it is said, “Timing is everything.” From birding, we can learn to slow down and just be. Despite all the busyness of summer nesting, fledging, and — very soon — preparation for winter migration, we miss much of the lives of small and big birds.

As my birding photography has become an avocation of sharing through slideshows and this column, birding has made me feel more grateful. Who wouldn’t call out, “Thank you!” to fascinating birds of gorgeous, bountiful Adams County.

COMING SOON: “Mommy, can you hear the birdies?” young Allie asked, trying to make sense of the cannonade over the Buehler family home on Baltimore Pike. Bonnie Portzline presents a new slideshow, “Birds With A Gettysburg Address: Birds’-Eye Views 1863” Saturday, Aug. 10, 8:30 p.m. at Battlefield amphitheater on West Confederate Avenue. Along with highlights of her 2019 birding photography and stories, hear about Gettysburg citizens who witnessed the impact of the battle on birds and the environment.

• Audubon Annual Picnic Monday, Aug. 5, at the home of Mike Bertram and Kathy King. Meet at 5 p.m., eat at 6 p.m.. Bring potluck, place settings, and drinks (BYOB) For information and directions, contact Mike 717-809-3911 or

• Kayak trip to Conejohela Flats, Susquehanna River Meet at Blue Rock Boat launch, Blue Rock Road (off River Road) Lancaster County at 10 AM. Information and Registration: Mike at 717-809-3911 or

Bonnie Portzline is a member of South Mountain Audubon Society:

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