This page is a chapter in the book Techniques and Educational.
How do you make a bird hide? Frighten it!

But on a more serious note, mine seems to work, and this is how I made it.

You will need:
  1. Rigid broad-brimmed hat. Mine is a genuine bamboo coolie hat and way better than the ordinary straw sun-hat I used before. I guess something like a boater or pith helmet would be as good: perhaps even a baseball hat with a stiff sun visor. The idea is to have something to prevent the fabric from flopping on your face and view-finder.
  2. Five to 5.5 metres of light cotton fabric. (If you are tall or intend to work standing with tripod, you will need twice that amount of fabric to enable to hide to reach the ground.) Colour should be black or khaki, brown or mottled etc. Throw it down on the ground under a gum tree, and if it doesnít blend in with the surroundings, go home and dye it black. Screw it up and tie it with string before dying so that the dye is patchy.
  3. About .3 metre of black tulle (mosquito netting)
  4. Some pants elastic and thread.

  1. Cut out circle larger than the hat to cover the hat with. You can then take in a few tucks here and there to make sit snugly on the hat.
  2. Then sew up the remainder as in the diagram. Its best that you erect your gear, just pin up the hide and drape it over yourself and your camera to work out how much to attach to the hat piece and how much to leave at the camera end. It might seem big, but you donít want to be restricted by tight fabric just as you want to swing your camera around to something to the side. Make sure you leave enough of the hat piece at the front of the hat unattached to the rest of the fabric, and your piece of netting will attach here. If I give you exact measurements they wouldn't work unless you had exactly the same kind of hat.
  3. Stitch a single thickness of netting into the peep hole, and if you donít like it, cut a hole in it on each side and just leave a little strip down the middle to stop it gaping too wide.
  4. Make a small hem around the hole for the lens and insert elastic to hold it firmly around the lens. My lens hood has a screw that sticks out on top and I use a rubber band to attach the fabric to the lens at this screw. Without this, the whole slips right down to expose the entire lens when shooting at something high above.
  5. If your hat is straw or bamboo you will be able to fix the fabric firmly in place. This makes a big difference. Before I did that, I was always having to adjust it when I should have been looking out for birds. Let me know if you have any problems.

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Since the attached photo was taken I have cut holes in the netting over the peep hole to enable me to look down as well as ahead. You canít see the peep hole in the photo because I was looking through the viewfinder at the time. Also, I have attacked the cover over the hat with matte-black spray paint and stitched some fluffy black bits onto it to make it less obvious.

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It was about a morningís work putting it together. One small advantage that I did not anticipate is the protection it gives from hot and cold weather.

Article and Images courtesy of Margaret Leggoe.

Originally published in.

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