10 Bird Watching Tips

Bird watching can be challenging at times, but very rewarding. The more time you spend in the field studying birds and researching them at home, the better you will be at identification. Here, we give you 10 Bird Watching Tips to help you get started. – Team Phone Skope

10 Bird Watching Tips

1. Binoculars First – Use binoculars first then take a photograph. Look at the bird, understand what it looks like and how it is acting, and take a mental photograph. Take a photograph after you critically study the bird. A photograph helps with identification, but details on how the bird is behaving are also necessary for making an accurate identification. Photographs can definitely be useful when you need to consult experts on a tough identification or when you want to get a more accurate age and sex on the bird in question.

2. Use a Field Guide – Use a field guide when making a identification. Field guides are an essential part of a bird watcher’s arsenal. They are packed with vital information such as identification characteristics and clues, range maps, song descriptions, and habitat preference. When in the field, make sure you have some form of field guide handy at all times. Field guides are available in book or electronic format. Most popular field guides are now available as smartphone apps and give users complete access to all material within the hard copy of the guide as well as song and call files for most bird species.

3. Take Notes – Take a notebook when you go bird watching and take notes on what you see and hear. Taking notes is becoming a lost tradition in the bird watching world. As smartphones take over, notebooks are becoming obsolete in the field. I use my smartphone, but always have a notebook in the field in case I have an unusual sighting that deserves notes or a field sketch. It is much easier to write extensive field notes in a notebook than within a smartphone app.

4. Be Respectful – Keep your distance from sensitive species such as owls and other nesting birds. Additionally, try to keep your noise level to a minimum to avoid disrupting the birds and fellow bird watchers. Basically, you want to make the least amount of disturbance as possible when observing the wildlife in the natural world.

5. Birds by Habitat – Understanding the habitat you are bird watching in is beneficial to understanding the local avifauna. Most birds prefer a special type of habitat and as you recognize the association between birds and their preferred habitat, bird identification will become much easier.

6. Bird Songs – Bird watching by ear is one of the hardest things to learn as you advance your skills. You can learn bird songs and calls various ways including CDs, smartphone applications, and websites. I find that listening to recordings will help you familiarize yourself with the songs, but you really learn by studying in the field. Try to watch birds sing, as this usually helps stick the image in your mind.

7. Birds by Range – Learn the birds in your area by studying the winter, summer, and breeding ranges of various species. If you learn the distribution of many species, you will pick up on regular or local birds much more quickly. Consequently, you will be able to pick out the birds that look different, which are usually vagrants and uncommon to the area!

8. Start Local then Expand – Bird local first, then expand to different areas. As you start bird watching, it is easier to learn the birds in your area rather than trying to conquer an entire state or country.

9. Bird Walks – A local bird club or Audubon Society may be your gateway into the local birding community. Most clubs have weekly bird walks during migration at local parks or bird watching hotspots and the leaders are generally experts on the local bird life.

10. Get Involved – Get involved with your local bird clubs. Go to meetings, on trips, and attend festivals and talks. The more involved you get, the more people you will meet, which will give you the opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge base. The more you explore, the more you learn!