A few years ago, I decided to set up a few bird feeders and a small blind in my backyard. I didn’t buy a “standard” blind because first off, I’m cheap. Second, and most importantly, both of my legs have been fused straight – no more bending – so I couldn’t fit inside most of those blinds. What to do? I used an old play house that my kids used to play in as a substitute. It worked, but I still had to sit sideways and shoot which was not very comfortable. I needed something larger.
The PVC Framework
My new blind had to be long enough and wide enough to sit down and rotate into position. I drew up a set of plans. I went out to the local hardware store and bought $20 worth of 3/4″ schedule 40 PVC pipe and a few fittings. I had an old tarp so I used it to cover the PVC framework using a few spring clamps from my old photography blind. Since I sit on the ground, I needed something comfortable to sit on. My old wheelchair cushion did the trick.
I also wanted to add a small water feature to my habitat set-up. I was tired of using a clay pot as a bird bath and wanted something more realistic. So the next thing I had to do was decide where to dig for the pond. Since I still have two kids, I needed a place that was out of the way. I also wanted the sun to be at my back, and a place that offered some cover for the birds. We have a small Orange Tree in the back corner of the yard and beyond our back yard we have a row of large Juniper trees that made the ideal location.
I originally dug the pond around 2 feet by 4 feet and no more than 4 inches at the deepest point, but soon found out it was too small. I could see the other shore on some of the photos so I added another 2 feet each way, keeping the depth the same. Now I can shoot at one side and not see the other shore.
To line the pond, I used a 3.5 mil plastic tarp to keep the water from seeping into the ground. I find that I have to re-fill the water every couple of days, so I think I may have a small leak or very thirsty birds. I may have to switch to a rubber liner at some point, but for now I’m fine with re-filling the pond as it keeps the water fresh anyway.
I also wanted a small waterfall. I found a Waterfall Kit from Zoo Med Laboratories at the local pet store. The kit comes with 12″ of plastic tubing, and elbow, and a small submersible pump powered by an extension cord. To make it look natural, I drove out to the foothills and found a bunch of rocks. I then put the rocks, small logs and branches around and in the pond.
The Submersible Pump
My backyard habitat is still a work in progress. I recently added a hummingbird feeder right by the pond since I’ve seen photos of hummingbirds bathing right under small backyard waterfalls. I also add or remove rocks, twigs and logs to suit the occasion.
If I can build my own backyard photography habitat, I’m sure you can too! I hope I’ve inspired you to build one for yourself that meets your own needs and shooting style. Have fun with it and happy shooting!