When Lisa, who goes by Ostdrossel, moved from Germany to Michigan in 2012, the variety of wildlife in her backyard surprised her. She had moved to the U.S. for love — but never anticipated falling in love with her wild neighbors, too.
Like any new relationship, she wanted to capture every moment. So she started snapping photos.
“There was so much color and diversity, different from what I was used to in city life,” Ostdrossel told The Dodo. “I wanted to share them with my family in Germany and so I started feeding birds and taking photos.”
Ostdrossel began with a DSLR camera and tried out a few other ways of capturing birds up-close. Soon she realized that if she was going to get the secret moments she wanted, she had to build her own “feeder cam.”
Each night, Ostdrossel reviewed her photos and videos, and was impressed by the unique behaviors and expressions of the animals around her home. She saw birds that she had never seen before, such as the “exotic” hummingbird.
Soon, she was watching entire bird families raise their young. Her feeder even became a central part of the fledglings growing up.
“I have set up a nesting box for the Bluebirds in my yard which also has a camera inside and I have watched them building their nests and raising their babies for several years now,” Ostdrossel said. “They are very special to me and the best is when their babies are old enough to be brought to the yard by their parents and get taught how to eat mealworms.”
One of Lisa’s favorite times to watch the now multiple cameras set up around her property is during migration. “You never know who might show up,” Ostdrossel said. “One time, there was a Summer Tanager, then a Palm Warbler, birds like that. They are only passing though and it is exciting to spot them.”
And it wasn’t just birds that frequented her feeder: “The chipmunk just started showing up recently, I love the Opossum, [and] the Groundhog is a longtime resident,” Ostdrossel noted. “There is also a family of skunks each year.”
Wanting to share her sweet snapshots with fellow bird lovers, Ostdrossel posted her photos on a local birder group and made a public album on Facebook. It didn’t take long before her photos went viral.
“Watching the birds and working my garden in a natural and critter and bird-friendly way is something that calms me and balances me in these chaotic times,” Ostdrossel said. “The fact that my photos and videos seem to have the same effect on other people, too, is a wonderful plus.”
Not only has the project helped her feel more in touch with her adoptive country, but it makes her more aware of the creature who inhabits it.
“The whole hobby with the birds has helped me understanding our impact on nature more,” Ostdrossel said. “And it made me want to know what I can do to help preserve it.”