Are you starting out on a new birding experience? Do you want to improve your bird watching skills? Good choice! I have the best 15 bird watching tips to help you in improving your birding skills. Keep reading to see every one of them.
Tip #1: Get the Best Birding Binoculars
Make sure you have the best binoculars for birding. And remember that binoculars aren’t only for the birds but also for observation and identification of general wildlife. A good pair of binoculars is therefore very important.
You don’t have to sweat to get an expensive one if you don’t want to. However, it’s important to note that when it comes to binoculars you basically get what you pay for. But if you’ve spent between two and three hundred dollars; you should get a good pair of binoculars.
Learn more: what are the best binoculars for bird watching
NOTE: Not every binocular with stronger magnification is the best. Some of these types of binoculars might have smaller field of view. A small field of view is a great turn off for any experienced birder who knows what they need.
Tip #2: Spot Bird with Naked eye
Do not spot the birds with your binoculars, rather spot them with your naked eye first. After which, you can use your binoculars to trail them.
This is a mistake that I have seen a lot with beginners. When they come out for the first time, they will look for birds with their binoculars first. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to find anything. It’s because their field of view is way too narrow through their binoculars.
However, this isn’t always the case. It depends which kind of birding you’re doing. If you’re scanning the horizon for shorebirds or water birds far away for your naked eyes to spot use your bird watching scopes first.
Tip #3: Know Which Clues To Look For
Know all of the pieces of information you need for a great birding experience. Understand all the clues you can use to identify a specific bird. From visual field marks, bird watching area, to what time of day birds are most active; have it all.
Ask yourself the following:
- What is the feeding habit of this bird?
- Does it feed alone or in group?
- What colors does this bird have?
- What sounds does it make?
- What does it feed on?
- Which climatic conditions does the bird love?
- Is it in the morning or at night that this bird is most active?
- How does it feed; does it catch an insect and flies back to its perch?
- Is it a habitat specialist? Habitat specialist birds live in specific trees or areas.
- What is its natural habitat? Does it live in water, in the forest, or prefers edge habitat?
- What does it like to do? Does it like to hop, nod the head, run on ground or perch and fly up?
Remember, at certain times of the year birds are usually migratory. Some birds are more active at certain times of the year than others too.
And in general, early in the morning or late in the evening is the best time for birding. However, there are some birds that will remain pretty much active throughout the day. Such birds are easy to watch through the best bird watching binoculars.
NOTE: Use all the clues you can remember to identify your bird. Clues are usually found through research and reading related journals and posts.
Tip #4: Bird Identification by Sounds
When I talked about knowing all the clues above, I touched on paying attention to the sound. The sounds that birds make are a crucial way to identify them. And any birder who focuses more on the sound has the most peculiar way of identifying birds.
By focusing on the sounds you will easily identify birds when you can’t see them. And you will realize when you become pro birder that most of your identification can be done just by sounds. Depending on what type of habitat you live in you can perfect the mastery of birding sounds.
How to Learn Bird Sounds
I know you must be wondering now, “How to I learn all the bird sounds in my area?” Sounds crazy, right? Well it is hard but not impossible. There are very many different ways that you can learn bird sounds.
- Get Out A lot: If you frequent the fields, you will develop a bird sound mastery with time.
- Use Mnemonics: There are different bird identification apps by sound that you can use.
- Watch Documentaries: I am a fun of birding documentaries. They are informative with crisp info.
TIP: Bird identification app by sound can be installed in phone. Once you hear a bird sound, you can turn the app on. The app will pick the sound and relay the information about the bird. The information you get will include name, scientific name, habitat, colors, etc.
Tip #5: Stay Quiet and Still
Staying quiet and still is a great tip when tracking birds. It prevents you from scaring it away and enables you to get an awesome watching time. In addition to remaining still and quiet you must watch you wear too.
One of the greatest birding photographers once asked his secret to great shots said, “Blending in.” It took me a while to understand what he meant but when I did I was amazed. What he meant is he always dressed to blend in with his environment.
His sentiments have been echoed by many birders who say that if you wear white it’s more likely to scare birds away. I want to “guess” that if you wore colors that camouflage you’d have made the best choice.
Tip #6: Go Birding With Others
Don’t go birding alone. Since you are starting out and probably green on many tips, going with others will be cool. However, don’t bring everyone. Too many people might scare the birds away too. You can choose one or two birding experts to tag along.
I insist on carrying the experts because anything you do you’d have to learn first. And nothing gives the greatest upbeat like learning from the best.
Tip #7: Practice Pointing Out Birds Verbally
No this is something that even a lot of experienced birders don’t realize. It is important to understand the best way of pointing out birds to the others who aren’t seeing.
The trick is to speak. Make sure you are clear and concise as you can possibly be. Describe the location of the bird as accurately as possible so the others can be able to spot it. It’s annoying when you can see a bird the others can’t and your explanations aren’t helping at all.
It even gets worse when the bird suddenly flies away before they can get to spot it. Pointing at the bird is even worse when there is more than just one species in the branch. Bird spotting is an integral part of a cool birding experience and should be perfected by any means.
Tip #8: Use Your Phone
I always advise fellow birders to maximize all possible benefits that they have and a phone is one of them. Phones, especially smartphones are an amazing piece of technology.
When used if birding, a phone will leave you with an amazing experience. You can install birding apps, bird identification apps by sound, and integrate it with your bird watching binoculars for real-time videos.
Today, phones have cool add-ons that can easily enhance your birding experience. For example, there are bird watching apps that pinpoint individual birds seen from citizen science data on eBird. If you want to learn bird calls these phone apps are pretty cool.
In fact you no longer need to bring the thick birding guide book anymore. There is a bird-watching book on your phone for that. All you need is to download the app and you are good to go. No more page flipping. It is easier, quicker, and faster when done on your phone.
Tip #9: Record Sounds
Phones unlike guide books are easy to carry around your hand. You can carry them for long without even noticing they are there. Due to this, they are the best devices for recording a great birding experience.
You can use your phone to record sounds, a bird call, and to capture videos in the wild. These videos can be later studied for in-depth insight and classification. Phones are great because you can also use them for future reference in case you are out again.
As a beginner, your phone will be your best assistant. If there’s a bird calling in the shrub and you have no idea what it’s called, record the sound. Get back to your bird call app and search for the sound. In no time you will have the bird.
Tip #10: Take Notes/ Write it Down
Always carry a note pad. Better still use your phone’s note pad. Note down everything you see for birds that you don’t know. These notes will come in handy when you finally sit down to try and figure out the bird.
Coupled by the best bird identification by sound apps, you will be able to have an amazing experience too.
NOTE: Write down everything you see on that bird right there and then while in the field. If you don’t, chances are you will forget sooner than you think. Note the colors, behavior, feeding habits, names of the feathers etc.
Tip #11: Ask the Others
There is a reason you came with your birding experts; so you can learn. Don’t sweat for nothing when you can reach out to the expert. Asking doesn’t mean you are foolish, no! In any case, there are millions of bird species for one person to know.
So feel free to ask. Remember, you have learnt the best way to point out at a bird, use it. Let your mates see what you have seen. They could be a wealth of resources for you. You might be surprised at what you would have missed out on.
Tip #12: Take Photos
This is a very important tip that every birder should take home. Taking photos of the bird you see or the one you don’t know will help you during identification. More importantly, it will help you to grow and become a better birder.
It is important that you try and get the best photo that you can. And if you can’t, still no problem; just make do with what is available. Photos are integral and you can even send them to friends. You can use them for aesthetics and possibly when developing blogs.
Taking photos, and posting them on social media, is a great hobby too that you can exploit. It is fulfilling and pretty easy.
Tip #13: Post-Birding Routine Review
Until now, you nailed the best bird watching area tips and begin the experience in the right way. Now of the birds you saw in the field it is important to create a post birding routine review. You must be wondering why you need it. It will help you to harmonize your data.
The very first part of great reviews is to keep a list of all the birds you have seen. It makes your experience fun and enables you to build a cool database. In addition to that, it is a great way to track all the species that you’ve seen.
Tip #14: Track Uncommon Species
If you can’t find the specie that you have seen in the field in the birding encyclopedia then track it. The best way to do this is to go on the internet and just Google. Go with the natural history of the birds and certain behavior that you noticed.
Tip #15: Go Birding As Much As You Can
Finally, spend as much time in the field as possible. Birds exist in the field and that’s how you establish consistency. Focus more in the early mornings or after work before just before the sun goes down. You can always take a quick walk around your local park or take a morning stroll around the countryside.
More importantly, move around light. Just grab your pair of best binoculars for birding and your smartphone. Watch the birds across the receding sun’s rays and keep your apps handy to study bird calls. You can learn how to choose binoculars for bird watching right here.
With these bird watching tips, it’s no doubt you begun your bird watching experience with a blast. But not so first; I always have one unnumbered tip. Get active on social media. Join online birding groups, communicate, connect, and share photos with birders. You will never go wrong with real-time online discussion groups.
For instance, there may have bird watching societies that you can join in practically any region of the world with birders. The society has a social media group account that enables you to post photos and share birding tips. It is best for interacting with other birders. And once you post photos you will get some help identifying the birds.