Basics of Bird-Watching

Birding, as the insiders call it, is a fun and inexpensive pastime that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. All you really need is a little bit of patience.

Preparing for Your Outing
When you go out birding, you should take a few things with you:

  • Binoculars: To make it easier to see the birds.
  • A field guide: To identify birds.
  • A notebook and pen: To record the names of the birds you identify, the location, the time of day, and other information.
Wise Old Owl's Advice
Many field guides are available for geographic regions. Get one for your area to gain a better idea of the birds you'll find around you.

If you're going out in the sun, remember to put on sunscreen and take a hat. Insect repellent is important, too. Many birders also take raincoats along in case of sudden weather changes. You're doing this for your enjoyment, so take along anything that will make you comfortable.

Finding Birds
You can begin your bird-watching anywhere. You can start in your backyard or neighborhood, identifying the birds in your area. If you like, you can plan outings to state parks or other areas where you can find birds in the wild. Geographic field guides can also give you ideas on where to look for birds, including the best time of day to look.

Wise Old Owl's Advice
Mark up your field guide! Highlight interesting points or descriptions so you can find them easily. Write notes to yourself in the margins. (Don't do this if it's a library book!)

Identifying Birds
Sometimes you'll come across a bird you just can't seem to place. If you're having trouble identifying a bird using your field guide, use the following questions to narrow your search:

  • What's the geographic description? The bird you're looking at is more likely to occur naturally in the area.
  • What does the bird look like? Most field guides list a description and include a silhouette image to help you identify birds using plumage and other physical characteristics.
  • What kinds of sounds does it make? Eventually you can identify birds by their calls. There are recordings of birds available in libraries and on the Internet that you can use to learn the sounds of different birds.
Wise Old Owl's Advice
If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the birds you can't identify. You'll be able to study it further, and even pass the picture around to other bird-watchers.

Final Tips
The more you do it, the better you'll become. Try to plan outings with more experienced birders so that you can learn from them.

Remember that the objective is to view birds in their natural habitat. Respect that habitat and try not to leave any trace of yourself on your travels. Take your garbage with you when you leave.

Excerpted from  (http://www.idiotsguides.com/) CompleteIdiot's Guide


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