It’s all about the light…
Lighting can really make a bird photo stand out. I’m a big believer in breaking the rule of only taking photos with the sun at your back with full light on the front of the subject. To me, back or side lighting is much more dramatic. It can give the subject much more depth and interest.
Case in point is this little Sanderling from Bolivar. I was trying to get some shots of a flock of Avocets near by while I was laying on a sand bar with my ground pod. The Avocets weren’t in a good position for a decent shot so I changed my focus on the little shore birds right in front of me. Got this little guy with some side light and was able to get the proper exposure in the camera using spot metering. I would have been better off using manual exposure as he moved very quickly and I lost exposure when the camera metered off of the sand and not the white part of the bird. Got lucky with these two that I like with the catch light in his eye.
Taken with Canon 7D and 100-400 lens with ground pod
1/2500 sec @ F5.6, spot metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 400, fill flash with better beamer
1/1250 sec @ F5.6, spot metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 400, no flash