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I'm wanting to dig into wildlife photography more intentionally. From what I've read on wildlife photography this means I need to learn about the animals I want to take pictures of. Specifically their behavior, what they eat, when they're out, where they hang out in different seasons, how to not stress them, etc. However I'm struggling to know where to find the resources to get this kind of information on animals. Where are good resources for finding information specific to animal behavior? What are the right things to search for (online or in the library)? Is animal behavior the right term? How do I limit my search to what I need to know for wildlife photography without getting bogged down in unrelated, albeit valuable, topics?

Also, I've heard of people talking to biologists, but since I'm a very amateur photographer is this appropriate? And where are these biologists? I don't want to be a bother to a biologist since I'm just a hobbyist.

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    Re, "How do I limit my search to what I need to know for wildlife photography...?" Have you Googled for "wildlife photography?" I think you'll find quite a lot of "how to..." advice if you try it. Sep 21 '20 at 11:22
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I will restrict the answer to birds because that is what I am most familiar with. There are groups of amateur birders all over the world. In my area there are people who have records going back decades that show when and where they have seen particular species. They can tell you when they arrive, when they leave, what time of day you can see them, what environment you can find them in, what they eat, where they nest, etc. There is probably a club that sponsors frequent walks to see them. The leaders are usually quite knowledgeable. Go on those, meet people, talk to them and learn a lot. Many of the birding guides have information on behavior. The same people can point you to the most useful ones. Birds are special because they are colorful, there are few enough species that you can often ID them from one photo (unlike plants and insects) and they are easier to find than mammals aside from squirrels.

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  • P. S. And many of them are photographers as well. You can debate Canon vs. Nikon to your heart's content. If you don't want to debate it, they won't force it on you. They are very welcoming of eager beginners. Sep 22 '20 at 2:56
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In addition to @RossMillikan's answer, you can start at your local park office/website. Many national parks (worldwide) and even many smaller parks have information centres and websites with information about the plants and (larger) animals in the area. A bit of judicious google searching will almost certainly identify a few sites for your locality that will be at least useful for a starting point. Here's an example of one I've used when living in Tennessee USA; Tennessee Watchable Wildlife (I have no affiliation with this website or organization).

In additon, if you are after photographing "game" animals (e.g. deer, pigs), hunting clubs will often have information about the game animals in the area and most certainly have people who are very knowledgeable about those animals. I even know a few hunters who enjoy photographing their prey when not carrying a rifle/bow, just for the thrill of the hunt.

Failing that, I would refer you to your local library - find the section on the animal(s) you are interested in and start reading. Look for descriptions of habitat and behaviour. It might have terms like nocturnal (active at night), diurnal (day active) or even crepuscular (dawn and dusk active). Generally guide books for the type of animal will be useful. These are quite common for birds (e.g. Audubon's Birds of America), with pictures and a brief description of the animal, where it is found and when.

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