Beginning any type of new hobby or activity means you need to do some research and learn as much as possible. And that includes birdwatching, which involves so much more than just looking at a bird through a pair of binoculars. How to birdwatch will entail identifying each bird you’ve sighted, documenting your findings, and learning about the behaviors of wild birds, in general.
Learning how to birdwatch can be a fun and exciting experience for the whole family. This is a simple, fun, affordable hobby that’s also very educational. It will also give you and the kids time to explore and learn about local wildlife and nature in general, which is always a huge plus. Birding involves sighting birds, using binoculars, documenting your findings in your birding journal, and learning about bird behaviors, their plumage, and so much more. Getting started is easy. Purchase binoculars that are specifically designed for birding, make or buy a journal, and pick a local spot where you can begin practicing sighting and identifying different species of birds. It’s that easy.
Keep on reading to learn more about this affordable, beginner-friendly, hobby and find out how you can get started on your first birdwatching adventure today.
Birdwatching is an amazing hobby that the true nature lover can enjoy and do, pretty much anywhere, if they know where to look and have the right gear. So, let’s delve a little deeper into this exciting hobby to learn about some great birdwatching tips that can help you to get started on your path to your first outdoor adventure.
Birding binoculars are the perfect tool for both new and seasoned birders. Some birdwatchers may recommend a camera or spotting scope, but for most wildlife, a pair of birding binoculars like the Canon Image Stabilization All-Weather Binoculars can allow you to see even the finest details, allowing you to easily identify species based on markings and more. Finding the right pair of birding binoculars is important. Many lower priced binoculars may be marketed as great for birding, but they rarely are. What you need are binoculars that are a minimum of 8x to 10x magnification. Any higher will be overkill, while a lower magnification will prevent you from capturing important details. To learn more about birding binoculars, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
Where’s the Best Birding Site for the Beginner?
If you’re new to birding, you can easily practice sighting and identifying birds in your own backyard. Spend some time listening and watching the birds in your backyard or garden. You can even travel around the neighborhood, visit the local park and explore the wildlife all around you. An experienced birder may travel further in order to find and sight rarer species of birds. But in the beginning, you can easily get the hang of birding by learning more about local wild birds and practice identifying them, documenting on their behaviors, and more.
Documenting Your Findings
During your learning period, there are some things you’ll want to concentrate on when you journal about the birds you’ve sighted:
- The location of the sighting
- How big the bird was
- Was the bird smaller or larger than the other birds in the general location
- The patterns and colors of the bird’s plumage
- The bird’s behavior
- Was the bird alone or part of a flock?
- What was the bird’s call or song like?
The more you learn about local birds, the easier this type of documentation will become, allowing you to quickly sight, identify, and catalog your findings.
Aside from documenting their findings, many birders also enjoy drawing quick sketches of the birds they’ve sighted. If you’re not the best at drawing, don’t worry. The more you sketch, the easier it will become.
As we mentioned earlier, some birders prefer using a camera to sight birds. While this isn’t a necessary tool, especially if you have birding binoculars, it can make identify some species easier. Even if the image you capture is slightly blurry, the photo may contain some important details that you missed when you sighted the bird through your binoculars. Plus, if you’re also into photography, you can take some great action shots that may be framing-worthy. This can be a great way to document and memorialize some of your birding outings.
There are several field guides available that you can use when you’re birding. These guides will contain some great information regarding local wildlife and they can help you to easily identify birds in your neck of the woods. Identifying a bird without a field guide is possible, but it’s a skill that will develop over time. The more you do it, the more it will feel like second nature. But for now, rely on a field guide to help you properly identify your local wild bird population.
If you don’t want to carry around a bird identification guide, then you can download an app on your smartphone. These apps will not only include photos of local wildlife they may also include bird calls, so you can also learn how to identify a bird based on their song.
A birding journal is another important piece of gear that you won’t want to leave home without. You can buy a dedicated birding journal online, but most birders can agree that creating your own can make it easier for you to quickly access important information. For a birding journal you can use a lined or unlined notepad or notebook and write down what you’ve seen and other pertinent information in addition to sketches.
Do Birding Binoculars Require Routine Maintenance?
Yes. It’s very important that you keep your binoculars properly maintained. Dirty binoculars can negatively impact your ability to properly sight a bird. If you’re a beginner and not sure how to routinely service your binoculars, click here to read our article on how to clean binoculars.
How Can I Attract Birds to My Yard?
Attracting more birds to your yard can be as simple as setting up a few different types of bird feeders in your yard and adding a birdbath. It may take a few days before you notice an increase in birds, but once the word has spread that you have food and fresh water, you’ll be surprised at the significant increase in the bird population in your yard. This will give you the perfect opportunity to view new species of birds and practice your sighting and identification skills. We recommend adding a hummingbird bird feeder, and a black sunflower seed bird feeder, both of which are big hits with most local birds.
As you can see, learning how to birdwatch is fun, simple, and very beginner-friendly. Begin by purchasing the right type of binoculars, field guides, and a journal, and you’ll be ready to go. But keep in mind that learning how to properly identify a bird can take time. In the beginning, start off by practicing identifying the birds you commonly find in your own backyard or neighborhood. In a matter of weeks, you’ll find that you can easily identify a wide range of bird species.