2. Get closer to your subject
Robert Capa is credited with saying, "if you your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough". There is so much truth to this! You've all seen it, someone with a camera, and they are standing way to far away and taking a photograph and wondering why they aren't getting any impact. Simple! You aren't close enough!
You can fix this in three ways.
A. You move your feet. This is the best way. You can reframe and remove distracting clutter, your subject will be larger, and sometimes you can get a more interesting angle. Compare this picture 2 with the first one and you'll see it's improved drastically by getting closer and more on eye level with the subject.
Now, in wildlife photography the subject won't always allow you to get closer. It might fly away, it might get agitated, or even aggressive if you invade it's personal space. As a wildlife photographer you should work on learning body language of animals so you can judge correctly when you are starting to upset your subject.
I've said before, and probably will many more times, no photograph is worth harming an animal. If you are endangering or upsetting the subject, back off and start over or move along and go elsewhere. If you don't care about the animal's welfare than your really shouldn't be a wildlife photographer. Your lack of empathy will show up in your photos. If you want to set your photographs apart from everyone else's the first step is photographing what you love, and you're not doing that if you don't even care about the subject other than "getting the shot". Ok, back off my soapbox now... :)
B. You zoom in. This is part of working the subject. You zoom in, you zoom out, you find what works for the subject. Don't forget that you have this ability!
C. This might be controversial in some circles but if your camera has the spare megapixels, you can always crop the photograph to get "closer" to the subject. Keep in mind how many pixels you need for prints if you intend to print the photograph and don't crop below that, but otherwise cropping can solve problems such as the annoying branch you may not have seen in the field! It's always best to get it right in camera if at all possible, but sometimes... nature and wildlife just don't cooperate!
3. Watch your background
So looking at Picture 2, we've reframed to remove the distracting branches. We'd gotten closer to enhance the subject. But it's still not even a keeper. What's wrong? That background and horizon is really distracting! There's lots of things that be distracting about backgrounds. Clutter, reflections, crooked horizon lines, ugly boring skies, etc, etc.