Huntsville mom fills empty nest with amazing photos and videos of backyard creatures
A post came up in my Facebook feed earlier in the week. “My neighbor has the most wonderful page with pictures from her backyard.”
Since I scroll Facebook like it’s my job (because it is), and I already have to spend an unreasonable amount of time on my phone, I normally skim right past these types of posts and rarely take the time to click over. But this one was different. There was a video.
That got my attention. I clicked on over to see what all the fuss was about and I was not disappointed. Alice’s Wonderland is a charming page full of these types of videos and a ridiculous array of all kinds of birds (and the occasional squirrel).
I wanted to find out more so I contacted Alice Searcy, local photographer and backyard bird enthusiast, to chat about how this page came about and just as importantly, how local parents and kids might do something similar.
Q: How long have you lived in Huntsville? If you aren’t from here, what brought you here and where did you live before?
A: We moved to Huntsville in 1989 from Ft Walton Beach, Florida for my husband Don’s new job at Nichols Research. He is a Nashville native and I grew up in Birmingham. We both felt that Huntsville would be a great place to raise a family (and we were right!).
Q: What inspired you to start your Facebook page?
A: Over the past few years (after our youngest son left the nest 😉) I started to get very interested in photography, particularly bird and wildlife photography. I started a Facebook page separate from my personal page for two reasons: I was beginning to get friend requests from people I didn’t know and wanted to keep my personal life more separate, and on the flip side, I didn’t want to annoy any non-birding FB friends with all of my pics. When I decided to start a new page for photography, I asked my friends to help me name it. “Alice’s Wonderland” seemed like an obvious choice.
Q: How long have you been photographing and videoing birds and creatures?
A: I’ve been gradually learning about photography and birds over the past 5 years or so. The video piece was added about a year and a half ago with the purchase of my Bird Photo Booth setup (see next question)
Q: The videos are clearly somehow attached to the feeder. What’s the actual set-up for capturing these amazing videos?
A: I’m sure there are other cameras and set-ups for capturing birds and wildlife, but I happened upon this device called a Bird Photo Booth and just HAD to have it for Christmas in 2018. It is fairly inexpensive but requires a bit of patience to operate at first. However, the results are so fun! I have mine mounted on a tripod on my deck, near my other feeders. After plenty of squirrel infiltrations, we added a baffle to the tripod to keep them from climbing up.
Q: For families that are wanting to do something similar in their own backyards, what equipment would you recommend?
A: Start with some good squirrel-proof feeders and seed mix. Wildbirds Unlimited has some great equipment as well as advice. There is also a good feeder brand, BROME, which can be purchased other places. Buy a seed mix that has plenty of sunflower seed (I tend to buy something called a “songbird blend”). People always ask me what I put in my Bird Photo Booth feeder. It is a mixture of seed blend, dried mealworms, and peanut suet nuggets.
In addition to food, birds enjoy and need water! Keep fresh water in a bird bath. For even more fun, get a bubbler or fountain.
Once you start attracting a variety of birds, you’ll want to ID them. There are some great smart phone apps for that. I have an Audubon app and the Merlin Bird ID app. Just enter information about the bird you are seeing: size, color, etc. and it will help you identify your bird.
Q: Which is your favorite video and why?
A: I am very biased towards my bluebirds. I was in heaven last year when my first fledgling bluebirds visited the feeder with their daddy. I love seeing not only the beauty of the birds, but their interaction and personality. I mainly post videos I like on my Alice’s Wonderland page, but I did create this video compilation for my young grandsons to learn about birds.
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