Starting Your Bird-Watching Hobby
A wonderful adventure awaits you
If you step outside and gaze into the beautiful morning sky and the first thing on your mind is where the little birds are flying, you might be the perfect candidate to become a bird-watching enthusiast! If on a quiet day, you hear the charming song of a nearby finch and it puts a smile on your face, bird-watching might be your next exciting new hobby! Nicholas Lund, a birding enthusiast said, “birding is the greatest pursuit available to a citizen of the modern world. It’s basically a lifelong scavenger hunt played across the entire earth.” Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, if you believe this to be true, then a wonderful adventure awaits you! Here you’ll find a list of some of the things you’ll need to get started on your bird-watching journey!
Get a Field Guide
Like many before you, your background in bird-watching may be limited to the sites and sounds of your backyard or whatever you can see while driving from home to work and back again. Therefore, the first step is to get more familiar with the birds in your region. Download a birding app or stop by your local book store and pick up the most appropriate avian field guide for your region. Popular selections for North America may include, “Field Guide to Birds of North America” by Kenn Kaufman, “The Sibley Guide to Birds,” or the “Audubon Bird Guide,” to name a few. Place this book in a location in your home that is frequently visited. Take time perusing its pages and get familiar with the types of birds that may be nearby. Once you feel comfortable enough to begin your hunt, it’s time to brave the “beyond your backyard!”
Explore New Places
If you’re lucky enough to live in a town that provides access to a public park, start there! Otherwise, seek out a state trail system, national park, or wildlife refuge where birds might be able to find a more natural habitat to dwell. Using your field guide, use your periphery to spot birds based on their size, shape, and color! Use your ears to hone in on their different songs or calls. Search around water sources, sheltered areas, and among the trees and branches. Enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings and the peacefulness of the hunt!
If you found it difficult to see small birds hiding in the tops of branches, or the large waterfowl across the lake, then binoculars would be an appropriate investment. If you already have a pair hiding in your attic, great! Use those. If not, or if upon first use you’re left with black rings around your eyes, consider purchasing something new! There are a wide variety of binocular options, but for your first go around, consider something lightweight and compactable. If you want to go all in, consider an 8x24 HD Waterproof Binocular with a scratch-resistant lens coating and a locking diopter. Just remember, the larger the lens, the more light that’s let in, which makes for better viewing!
Find a Friend
Once you’ve purchased the field guide, scoped out your avian region, and purchased a pair of binoculars, all that’s left is to find a few more local bird enthusiasts and look to the skies! Now, if you’re more of the introverted type, birding alone is quite alright, but birding with friends is best. Keep a log of the birds you find. Compare strategies, cross reference each other's field guides, and consider connecting with other bird-watching hobbyists around the world.
Get excited about the adventure that awaits you and enjoy the thrill of the hunt! If you decide you want to stick to your backyard, you can always find a variety of enticing bird seeds, feeders, and stands at your local Southern States or online at the Farm Store!