It’s time to take to the birds. More than 45 million Americans participate in bird watching. It gives them the chance to experience the outdoors without getting dirty or sweaty, and it lets them observe majestic birds in their habitats.
But it’s not easy to be a bird watcher. Ask anyone who goes birding on a regular basis, and they’ll tell you the times that they saw nothing.
What do you need to do before you go birding for the first time? Where are the places to see incredible birds? What should you do for birding in your backyard?
Answer these questions and you can see birds every single time you hit the nature trail. Here is your quick guide.
Get Familiar With Different Birds
Sit down and spend some time doing research on birding. There are dozens of reference manuals and guides, some of which break down birds by geographic area. Take a look at a guide for your region and memorize the different details of birds.
You can download a few different apps on your phone. Some apps can draw from your personal location, then use details you provide to identify particular birds.
But these apps work best when you have background knowledge. Make some flashcards out of the most popular birds and memorize them.
You are not going to be able to remember every single bird in your area. But you can take notes and photographs and then see if you found a rare one. Keep your guides on hand as much as possible so you can check.
Know Where You’re Going
You should pick a particular area where you are going to look for birds. The birds you find in a park are going to have different features than the birds you find at the beach. Be aware of what features you want to see and pick the right location accordingly.
Even if you are familiar with the area, you should get a map of details where the bird habitats are. Try to find one specifically for birding that marks where food and water resources are as well.
You should never step foot into a habitat or resource area. You should keep your distance so birds don’t fly away at the sound of your footsteps. Find a location where you can walk on nature trails or stand on public land for a long period.
While you’re out in nature, keep a paper map in your pocket. You may lose cell service, and you can take notes on your paper map with a pen.
Find the Right Time for Birding
You should go bird watching early in the morning. Birds go out for food, water, and resources to build nests. By noon, they have returned to their shelters and they remain there for most of the day.
You will have to get up early, though you don’t have to rise at the crack of dawn. Try to get to your birding location by 8:30 and expect to be there for at least one hour.
If you are going along a shoreline, you can find shorebirds at low tide. Some birds like to sit on the sand and go sunning, which gives you plenty of time to observe them. Figure out when low tide is on your beach.
Blend in With Your Environment
Do not go birding wearing white colors, including white. They contrast with the green and brown surfaces of plants, making your movement very obvious. You should wear earth tones like dark greens and light browns.
You should keep your movements to a minimum. Do not walk around while you are looking at a bird. You can stand upright, sit, or crouch.
Minimizing noise is just as important as minimizing your movement. Avoid talking as much as possible, and write notes when you need to communicate with others. Put your phone on silent mode and plant your feet so you don’t scrape against the ground.
Start Bird Watching in Your Backyard
If you are in a suburban or rural area, you can attract all sorts of birds to your backyard. You should install the best bird water fountain and the best bird feeder you can afford in your yard. Put them some distance away from your house so the birds don’t hit your windows.
The best bird seed contains all-natural ingredients. You can make your own by buying different foods at the grocery store. Corn, peanuts, and millet are popular among many different species.
If you have birds that like to hang out in trees, you should install birdhouses in them. You can buy products like Nature Niche bird houses from most major retailers.
Watching birds from your house means you won’t give yourself away with noise or movement. But you can’t get close to the birds themselves. You should get a good high-definition camera with a zoom lens so you can get clear images of the birds.
Make sure that you are not attracting invasive species of birds or plants to your yard. If you don’t recognize the birds you are attracting, you should take your feeder down.
How to Start Bird Watching
Bird watching is one of America’s favorite activities because anyone can be successful at it. Study the birds near you so you can name them on sight. Buy a guidebook or two and keep information with you.
Pick a particular area and get a birding map for it. Rise as the sun rises and head out to watch your birds. Wear dark colors and make very little motion or noise.
Start out in your backyard. Get a bird feeder, fountain, and house.
Become a birder and then branch out. Learn about other outdoor activities by following our coverage.