Sat 10-Nov-12 04:05 PM | edited Sat 10-Nov-12 04:25 PM by nrothschild
I would not worry about the eyes unless you are extraordinarily close. You would have to be awfully close to a Warbler to get the head large enough to present a good AF target. The head would have to fully fill the sensor reticle.
If you end up with sharp breasts or wings and soft eyes then stop down. You'll probably want to be shooting around f/8 just to make the DOF reasonable.
I developed all my technique, and I test any new gear or technique at my home feeders, and the surrounding habitat where the feeder birds hang out. When I am satisfied with that then I go out in the field.
If you cannot do feeders at home then a local park might let you put some feeders up. People do that in a local nature park where I often bird. Parks have an advantage because you can situate the feeder near the habitat you are attempting to shoot in. You should then get practice with the feeder birds perched in foliage and bushes.
You can get more practice at a feeder in one day then a month in the field. I know it is not quite the same unless you have good habitat around the feeder, but learning on the trail is a long uphill climb.
Just a note to Eric about focus/release priority. For birds in flight I think that decision is a difficult one. But for difficult perched birds, my feeling is that if I can't get the camera to fire using focus priority I'm not going to like the shot I get with release priority.
I may not like a lot of shots I get with focus priority either, but surely my consistency should be way better and I am not going to lose many usable shots. That is my reasoning for always using focus priority, and I would feel more strongly about it if I were having enough difficulty to be here asking for help.