Animal Attraction

With help from a remote camera, a photographer captures a stream of delightful visitors beneath her bird feeder

  • Text and Photos by Carla Rhodes
  • Animals
  • Dec 30, 2022

Sporting electric-yellow lores, a dapper white-throated sparrow poses underneath a bird feeder in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

STUCK AT HOME while the pandemic raged during the winters of 2020 and 2021, I began to observe my immediate surroundings more closely, especially activity at the bird feeder outside my house in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Growing curious about the comings and goings of local wildlife, I decided to install a camera trap—an unattended photographic setup triggered by heat from a passing animal—on the ground beneath the feeder. Immediately, a new take on “bird’s-eye view” materialized before my eyes.

By enabling common winter species to, essentially, take selfies, my camera revealed a multitude of natural behaviors as familiar feathered friends along with surprising visitors wandered into the frame both day and night. Working daily to review and edit these images, I also made sure to keep the feeder and ground below it clean to protect my subjects’ health.

What I now call my “Beneath the Bird Feeder” project provided me much-needed artistic escape, focus—and pure joy—during an unprecedented time in modern human history. It also reminded me to respect and protect my natural surroundings and deepened my love for overlooked, common species that deserve just as much attention as their exotic counterparts.

Carla Rhodes is a writer and photographer based in New York.

Get Involved

Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

Learn More
Regional Centers and Affiliates