Enjoy and Learn About Bird Watching

Edited by Debbie, Charmed, Graeme, Rebecca M. and 1 other

All over the world, birds are beautiful to watch and hear. There are more than 9,600 species of birds that provide opportunities for alert bird watchers. How excited we are when we see the darting flash of a hummingbird or a kingfisher! Who does not stop and listen when they hear the call of the Cuckoo, or the musical sound of a magpie? You may have no desire to slosh through swamps or climb mountains to find rare birds. However, many people find birding in their backyard or garden to be satisfying and refreshing. Many put out water and a bird feeder to attract the local bird life. More and more people enjoy this every year, and say it is worth the effort.


According to the book An America Challenged, by Steve H. Murdock, between the years 1990 and 2050, bird watching is expected to grow at a faster rate in the U.S. population. New Scientist reported that "more and more people in India are taking to the pursuit of the feathered bipeds."

Once you see a bird through a bird watcher's eyes, you will be hooked! Birding is contagious! It can be an inexpensive hobby that takes you outdoors to the open spaces and challenges your mind. It has the appeal of the hunt, and not the killing. Some children and adults pick it up quickly, it can be enjoyed by families or groups of friends. It can even be enjoyed alone. Birding is a great pastime, and can be done anywhere year round!

Do you sometimes see a bird and wonder what it is called? A sense of satisfaction comes from learning the names of not just eagles, peacocks, and swans, but also the easily overlooked nightjars and earthcreepers.

Earth creeper.jpg

So what does a beginner need for bird watching?

What you Will Need

  1. 1
    A Field Guide
    This is in order to identify the birds of your country or region. This is a pocket-size book with illustrations and descriptions of the male and female of each species.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  2. 2
    A Good Pair of Binoculars
    Two popular models are 7X42 and 8X40. The first number refers to the power of magnification, and the second, to the diameter of the large lens in millimeters.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Basic Guide For Identification:

When spotting an unfamiliar bird, it may be helpful to try an answer some of the following questions:

  1. 1
    What kind of coloration does the bird have-solid, streaked, spotted, or speckled?
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  2. 2
    In which habitat is the bird located
    water, swamp, marsh, or meadow?
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  3. 3
    What size is the bird
    Compare with a familiar bird-sparrow or robin.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  4. 4
    How does the bird behave
    Does it dart after insects? Soars? Walks on the ground?
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  5. 5
    What shape is the bill
    Sharp? Pointed? Short and Stout? Long?
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Colorful birds.jpg

So where can you start looking? The person who knows the birds in his own neighborhood will be much better prepared for a trip to some other place to find less common or less visible birds. Do you know what species are the permanent residents around your home? Which ones are the flyovers that never seem to land, perhaps on their way to a nearby lake or marsh? What migratory transients pass through in their seasonal travels? Christopher Leahy, in his book The Birdwatcher's Companion, wrote: "In North America, migration involves about 80 percent of the approximately 645 species of breeding birds."

Some of these migrants may make a stopover near your home to refuel and rest up. Many birders in some areas have identified more than 210 species of birds in their own backyard! You will find it interesting and educational to keep a log of the dates when you see a species for the first and last time each year.

With binoculars around your neck and a field guide in your pocket, you are now ready to explore beyond the backyard. Bird checklists are available at parks and nature reserves. These usually indicate in which seasons species are seen there and what the likelihood is of your finding them. A checklist will be a useful tool in verifying your findings. If the bird you think you have just seen is listed as rare, then it would be good to scrutinize it, especially if you are a beginner. On the other hand, if it is listed as abundant, likely you have identified it correctly. Try to obtain in advance a map showing the trails and types of habitats you will encounter. The bird life is usually richer where two habitats meet. Whether you walk around or remain stationary, endeavor to blend in with the surroundings, and wait for the birds to come to you. Be patient. In some places there is a telephone number that enthusiasts can call to listen of reports of interesting recent sitings in the area.

Planning to find a special bird is unlike visiting an historical monument that you know will always be there. Birds are constantly on the move and full of life, surprises, and variety. But the search and the wait are worth the effort! All of this is what makes bird watching exciting. Despite your planning, the birds may not be there when you are, at least not the birds you are hoping to see. But no one can say what other unexpected discoveries await you. One thing is for sure, birds will never disappoint you. Happy bird watching!

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Birds

Recent edits by: Rebecca M., Graeme, Charmed

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 883 times.