Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bird Watching Tips for Beginners

What sparked your interest in birds? Are they something that has fascinated you since you were young or are they a newfound interest? Bird watching can be a truly great way to pass the time and doesn’t require a ton of time or effort. Here are a few simple things you should have to get started:

Field guide. Think of your field guide as your bird encyclopedia. This will be your new best friend and provide all of the information you need to know - names, coloring, size, feeding habits, habitat, etc. According to, some of the best field guides are Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds, Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds and Peterson First Guides: Birds. The latter is a great option for beginners and provides descriptions for 188 variations of birds. This is perfect because it’s not too overwhelming for someone just starting out. Digital guides are also available which are great because they include sounds, videos and more.

Bird watching journal. With your field guide as your reference manual think of your bird watching journal as your diary. Use this item to record your observations and include the date, time and location. Please, forget technology - just for a moment. Your phone is great, your iPad is handy, but a Rite in the Rain notebook is going to be the best thing for the job. Study the bird and memorize its size, colors, markings, sounds, etc. Make sure you jot down your observations quickly and efficiently – you don’t want to miss anything important!

A pair of binoculars. Think you can see that bird perfectly because you have 20/20 vision? Perhaps you feel you’re set with your $25 pair of binoculars. Think again! The right pair of binoculars can make a world of difference in the bird watching world. People really serious about the hobby might invest upwards of $1500 but that’s not necessary for someone just starting out. We suggest that you find a good, affordable pair of binoculars in a price range that you can afford. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you make the right choice.

An attractive yard. You can certainly go after the birds – or you can bring the birds to you! What better place to do a little bird watching than the comfort of your own home? Hang up a bird feeder and plant some fresh flowers. Do a little research on what attracts the kind of birds you want to see. But also, be realistic. Know what kind of birds are common in your area and work to attract those creatures. Honestly, a little bird seed can go a long way in attracting your feathered friends.
What now? You’ve got a field guide, bird watching journal, a nice pair of binoculars, and a beautiful bird-attracting backyard. Where do you go from here? Consider joining a bird watching group or going on a tour! Here in Coeur d’Alene, you can go on a bald eagle watching cruise, which is truly an amazing experience. Is there anything like that available in your area? What can you do and who can you learn from? Do your research, network, and get out there and start bird watching. 

Good luck!

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