When looking at a map for a larger park, you may notice a pair of binoculars. When you look at the legend, it may say “Bird Blind” or “Wildlife Viewing.” If you are a photographer, these places are well worth checking out.
Observation areas are not all equipped for photographers. I’ve been to many wildlife viewing areas where the observation area is a smaller hole bored through the wall that you could never fit a camera lens. Others have all of the available seating against the back wall where you are too far from the small birds to get “great” photos. Some of these observation areas will surprise you though. We have two great blinds in central Iowa and two more within a two-hour drive which are well worth spending time at.
My favorite is roughly fifteen minutes from my house. This blind is in a county park that is off the beaten path. Out of the way means that you won’t have random people go walking through the bird feeders and scaring everything off. The observation area is large enough to fit all of your gear comfortably and has multiple bench heights available. They also store the bird seed there so you can refill the feeders if they are empty when you arrive.
Bird blinds are not just a great place to see a wide variety of birds and the occasional mammal. You could practice catching birds in flight or try to get close ups of birds that would immediately fly away if they were to see you in the open. If you have a new camera body or lens, bird blinds are a great place to get used to how the autofocus and other systems work compared to your old gear.
Get to know the bird blinds in your area, and you might find your new, favorite photography spot.