If you are interested in being surrounded by nature and discovering its hidden treasures, getting into bird-watching might just be the hobby you are looking for. Bird watching, more commonly known as “birding,” is the practice of studying different bird species and keeping a journal containing these observations.
You do not have to be a scientist or a naturalist to become a birder. In fact, as long as you are interested in picking up bird watching, you are good to go! However, birding needs some careful preparation. So, if you want to take up this hobby and do not know where to start, read the following guide.
If you do not have any prior background on birds, then you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the different species that live in your area. Whether you are interested in observing invasive birds or common North American species, you can find dozens of field guides to help you identify different varieties.
For beginners, Kaufman’s or National Geographic’s field guides are often recommended since they contain colorful illustrations and descriptions of a wide array of species. You may also download a dedicated smartphone app instead if traditional paperback guides are not your thing.
Get the Needed Gear
You cannot become a real birder without having certain gear in your arsenal. Luckily, entry-level bird-watching equipment does not cost an arm and a leg, so you will not have to go over the budget to acquire it. You can even use an old pair of binoculars to kickstart your journey as a birder.
Yet, if you are in the market for more professional gear, rangefinder binoculars are a must-have. For beginners, choosing the best rangefinder binoculars might be somewhat tricky, as there are hundreds of options to pick from. To get the best pair, stick to ones that have 8x or 10x magnification to have an easier time catching sight of small birds.
Furthermore, look for models that have high low-light performance to get a crisp image in all lighting conditions. You should also purchase an HD camera to snap pictures of the birds you find and a feeder to lure them out of their nests.
Keep a Record
The most fun part of bird watching is recording what you have observed and there are many ways you can formulate your journal. You may also follow the next simple guidelines to keep a comprehensive record of your observations.
First off, decide whether you want to stick to a traditional journal or a digital one. Keeping a traditional version allows you to personalize it since it will end up looking like a scrapbook. So, if you are into arts and crafts, this option is probably the best.
On the other hand, keeping a digital journal can be also a good choice as long as you are okay with not having a physical copy of your records. There are many smartphone apps and desktop software that will help you start journaling if you want to go for that option.
Wear the Right Clothes
Remaining discreet and unseen is essential for any birder. For this reason, you should buy clothes that will help you blend in with your surroundings. Colors like tan and dark blue are thus recommended. On the contrary, extremely bright hues, such as orange, red, and white may scare the birds off.
Moreover, be careful to avoid clothing that makes noise: leather jackets and squeaky shoes, for example. So, it is better to stick to lightweight fabrics like cotton. Of course, your clothes are just one side of the equation; respecting the birds’ boundaries and not disturbing their nests is even more important.
Join a Club
Bird-watching clubs can offer an unmatched experience for new birders. By joining a similar club, you will find people who share the same interests as you. They will also be able to help you find more species, which is essential for a beginner.
However, if you cannot find a bird-watching club in your area, there are plenty of online ones to join. The people on these forums may not be able to come with you on your birding trips, but you will still benefit from the pointers they offer.
Birding can be an extremely rewarding experience, especially if you love to spend plenty of time outdoors. To become an expert birder, invest in field guides, proper gear, and clothing, and find people who can join you on your escapades. Observing your backdoor birds as a start is also a great way of getting into bird watching.
So, don’t worry about catching sight of the rarest species when you are just starting, and focus more on enjoying yourself.