This feature is a reprint of a story that originally appeared in Arizona Wildlife Views.
There are many good reasons to build a viewing blind. A blind is a structure that hides people from birds or other wildlife, allowing opportunities for positive wildlife-viewing experiences. The overarching goal of a blind is to offer the viewer a safe and rewarding experience while minimizing impacts to wildlife. If you’re hidden, wildlife will behave more naturally.
Because it can provide opportunities that might not be possible otherwise, a blind is a great addition to a nature enthusiast’s accessories.
Wildlife blinds can take the form of almost anything that’s already part of the natural scenery: a thick clump of shrubbery, a tree with low limbs and heavy foliage, even an old shed with a couple strategically placed holes for viewing and camera lenses.
Wildlife watchers and photographers often opt to invent their own one-person portable blinds. In general, designs are lightweight, made of camouflaged fabric that doesn’t reflect light (no shiny fabrics), easy to carry and set up and at least roomy enough for a person inside to turn without touching the walls. A stool or short chair makes a stay in the blind more comfortable.
Viewing or photographing wildlife is easier if you are stationary and let wildlife come to you. The time required to place and maintain a blind is far less than what you could spend pursuing wary wildlife. Let wildlife get used to the blind’s presence. Except for birdwatching, position the blind so prevailing winds blow from wildlife to your blind.
In wildlife-viewing areas on preserves, regional wilderness areas or state parks, permanent blinds often are in place already. Check with the area’s headquarters when planning a visit. If they don’t have blinds, find out policies on setting up your own.
—Joe Yarchin, Arizona Game and Fish Department watchable wildlife program manager