Working with wild animals, one thing that you soon learn is that they won't quite do what you want them to. A family of Hoopoes that I've photographed for the last couple of years in Koros-Maros National Park, Hungary were no exception to this.
I've been told that the most important consideration when choosing a new home is location, location, location! Sadly, nobody had explained this to the Hoopoes. Eschewing various scenic nesting sites, they had decided to make their home in a secure but decidedly unattractive metal oil drum on a disused airfield. You can see the problem from an image taken last year below...
Photographing the birds at the nest hole was a a bit disappointing as it's not very tree like. So, in circumstances like these, when the bird won't come to the tree then this year I brought the tree to the bird.
The nearby forests have plenty of fallen trees with peeling bark, so I collected a good amount of this. The bark was then screwed onto a wooden frame in which there was a gap for the nest hole. This fake tree should be put in place early in the season, preferably before the birds have nested - Hoopoes had been nesting in the oil drum for several seasons so it was likely that they'd use it again this year, which proved to be the case.
I used a hide set up nearby to photograph the birds at their fake tree and managed to get plenty of photos of them at the hole - the fact that their oil drum had sprouted a bark-covered trunk didn't seem to bother them in the slightest. In fact, they got the best of both worlds - a camouflaged wooden façade and a predator-proof steel nest.