How to Start Bird Watching

Bird watching is a wonderful hobby which anybody of any age can take up as an enjoyable past time. I’m sure you have awakened many mornings to the beautiful melody of birds chirping and singing. Wouldn’t you love to see the bird actually making the sounds?

Many people think you need to be an expert before you can become a ‘birder’, short for ‘bird watcher’. However this is not the case.

In order to start Birdwatching try the following steps;

1. Start with bird listening

Go outside into your back garden, close your eyes and listen attentively to the magical sounds of nature. When you focus your attention on birds chirping, your mind will filter out all other sounds and you will become aware of an incredible melody that up to now you were oblivious to.

Open your eyes, try and identify where the sounds are coming from and move towards these sounds. See if you can spot the bird doing all the singing. See how close you can get before the bird gets startled and flies away.

I’ll bet you are now curious as to the actual name of the birds you spotted.

2. Purchase some bird watching equipment

There are measures you can take to attract birds to dedicated areas of your garden so that you can see them more clearly. You can erect bird houses, bird baths or bird feeders in an area of your garden. This will attract birds that are looking for food or water.

You will need a field guide in order to identify the local species in your area. Effectively a field guide is a book with illustrations of birds and tips for identifying them. The ‘Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds’ or the ‘Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds’ are the best books for new birders in the United States.

Wild birds are not very tame and thus they will easily scare. Hence you will need to observe these birds from a distance. In order to view these birds clearly you will need a pair of binoculars. The best birders tend to have the best binoculars which enable them to identify birds 100 yards away by their silhouette.

Wearing camouflage clothes can also help you to blend into your background and ensure you get even closer to the birds without startling them.

You will need a diary to record your bird sightings. It’s useful to note the different locations where you saw a particular species whether it is in your locality, town, country or on vacation. Some birders track sightings based on frequency and season. A useful software program to track your sightings is ‘Birder’s Diary’.

3. Watch Birds at Feeding Time

Put seeds into your bird feeder, sit back and observe the different type of birds that visit. Note their size, color, beak shape, wing span and flight patterns.

A good trick is to vary the food to attract different types of birds. Peanut butter attracts many different birds such as woodpeckers and cardinals. Songbirds and cockatiels like seeds. Use a variety of seeds, berries, fruit, nuts and sunflower seeds and note the different birds each attracts. Even planting the right flowers will attract species such as the humming bird.

A bird bath is another effective method for attracting birds. They tend to go to these for a drink or to bath in the steamy summer days.

4. Join a Bird Watching Club

Perhaps the best way to learn about bird watching is to join a bird watching club and go bird watching with experienced birders.

These individual will impart wisdom that will greatly expedite the learning process involved in getting acquainted with this hobby. They will recommend the best website, magazines and other publications to increase you knowledge.

It is advisable to build up your knowledge on birds by subscribing to a bird watching magazine. For UK birds subscribe to ‘Birdwatch’ for US birds subscribe to ‘Birder’s World’ or ‘Birding’.

The best way to meet experienced birders is to contact your local Audubon chapter or birding club. It is most likely that a local club in your area organizes birding excursions for non members. Run a Google search and book yourself on one of these trips. You will discover interesting habitats in your areas, exciting species, and gain incredible insights into how experienced birders go about their business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, take notes and learn by doing.

Bird watching does have a relatively steep learning curve, but don’t let this detract from the enjoyment it brings. Tagging along with experienced birders will help you in terms of bird finding, bird identification, and recording of information.

Observe what experienced birders do and try to replicate it.

5. Timing

You need to realize that you can only spot certain birds at certain longitudes and latitudes at different times of the year. Birds are masters of migration and certain species are found in different countries at different times of the year. It is advisable to consult your local bird watching club for advice on bird species present in your locality through-out the year.

Hobeze.com [http://www.hobeze.com] – The Bird Watching Social Network

Martin O’ Flynn is director of the Hobby Social Network Hobeze.com. Set up a FREE Birdwatching Profile on [http://www.hobeze.com] and connect with fellow birders world wide.

The site contains free instructional bird watching videos, enables you to post your bird watching videos and images and is a fun way to express your birding passion.

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