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Featuring guest writer Mike Benton
So you have become interested in bird watching! But what can you do to enjoy a trip out to watch those birds? Since you are interested, you will want to learn as much as you can before you go out so you have a fun time outdoors! We have the top 5 tips that you should know so that you have a successful day watching beautiful birds.
Still, before you go out watching birds there is plenty of research to do. You can start with blogs and websites that can help you learn about birds, where to watch them, and what equipment you will need, such as a good set of binoculars.
If you are going on a hiking trip, you will want the proper gear so you can stay warm and comfortable throughout the journey. This means getting the appropriate clothing, having waterproof boots and an emergency kit, among other items.
You don’t have to get a super expensive pair of binoculars when bird watching, but you don’t want to get a cheap pair because you want to be able to see clearly. The best birding binoculars will be light in weight, waterproof, fog proof, and be impact resistant. They should also have some type of eye relief, with a wide viewing area so you can clearly see everything, and they should be able to zoom in with several times the magnification.
Having a carrying strap on the binoculars can be helpful so you don’t misplace them. An ergonomic design is helpful so you can comfortably hold them while you are viewing any kind of bird.
Connect with Others
You can bird watch alone or with others, but if you meet local bird watchers, you can build your community stronger, and make friendships, too. You can also learn a lot about birds in the area from avid bird watchers who know the lay of the land and the type of birds that are in the local area.
Having other bird watchers around means you can tell the difference between two red birds, or if you have a question, they can answer it. Research some local bird clubs, some of which hold meetings to discuss birds, and you can meet some others who share your love of birds and can give expert advice.
Know the Rules, Staying Safe
You will want to know the proper etiquette and rules when it comes to bird watching. For example, you never want to seek out a bird to pick it up or disturb it in any way. You are supposed to be observing them. Be respectful of their environment and never try to put a bird in danger.
Keep out of restricted areas or those that look dangerous. Safety should come first, as well as the laws in your area. You could even go out beforehand and look at the area in which you plan to bird watch. As long as you are polite to others and the birds, you will be welcomed to the community of bird watchers. If you want to read more, you can check into the Code of Birding Ethics.
Over time, you will learn enough about birds that you can identify specific ones. This knowledge is gained over time as you learn things about a bird’s feathers, eyes, and wings, among other identifiers. However, there are 4 ways to identify a bird that we will share with you now.
First you will want to learn about the size and shapes of birds. Is it big, medium or small sized? What does it resemble? Check out the shape. Is it plump and short or slender and longer? Look at some other identifying features like markings or a crest, or the shape of its bill. This can help you identify the species or type so you can do more research later.
Next, you will want to notice the color or color pattern that the bird has. Most birds have one dominant color such as black, brown or yellow. You can often use other signs help you narrow down the search like any coloring or marks on the wings or near the eyes. Look for things like patches of white or streaks on their breast.
The third way to identify a bird is by its habitat as they tend to be very choosy about where they want to live and this is a good way to confirm or deny a type of bird. For example, certain ducks like Wood Ducks like to live in ponds and marshy areas that are away from others as they like quiet areas. Some birds like to live in open areas like Eastern Meadowlarks. Some just prefer to be within the forest.
Lastly, look at the bird’s behavior. Look at how it moves, or how its tail moves. Does the bird hop a lot, or do a lot of bobbing? Some birds like the Killdeer bird will pretend to be injured so that it, or its nest and babies, do not become prey to bigger birds. Some birds will investigate a tree by going head down into it like some of the Nuthatches birds. Looking a bird’s behavior will help you to narrow down your search.
Are you ready to go bird watching now? Now that you are aware of some of the tips on bird watching, you can get a set of binoculars and head outdoors to seek out birds. Remember to be cautious, aware of your surroundings and never to disturb the birds in their natural habitat.
The best part about bird watching is that the community is very accepting of others who want to learn about birds. So, now that you have some information, you can get out there to see birds and bond with others who are like minded!