Bird-watching is the observation and study of birds in their natural habitat. Bird-watching has been enjoyed for centuries and has grown in popularity over the past few decades, and it’s a hobby that’s suitable for all ages. A birdhouse can be set up near a backyard shed to attract birds for you to watch. Alternatively, some enthusiasts travel to remote areas to find and observe rare bird species. Whether enjoyed individually or with friends and family, bird-watching is a safe way to get some exercise and explore nature while following the social distancing guidelines required to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
What Is Bird-Watching?
Bird-watching is the study of birds in their natural environments, including observation and identification of bird species. Birds have always held a special fascination for humans. The beautiful color arrangements of their feathers, their ability to fly, and their complex migratory patterns have intrigued scientists and amateurs for centuries.
- What Is the Difference Between Birding and Bird-Watching? From casual to competitive, bird-watching can be enjoyable with limited or extensive investments of time and finances.
Why Watch the Birds?
Bird-watching requires you to develop patience, attention to detail, and carefulness, which are excellent qualities to possess. Taking time to watch birds and study nature is educational and provides opportunities for introspection and reflection. Bird-watching is also a safe way to enjoy nature while staying socially distant.
- Top Ten Health Benefits of Bird-Watching During the Pandemic: Bird-watching can offer a safe way to get mental stimulation and physical exercise.
- Three Reasons You Should Start Bird-Watching: The research and field work in bird-watching are educational and provide opportunities for positive social interactions.
How to Start Bird-Watching
A simple and inexpensive way to begin bird-watching is to spend a few minutes a day looking out of your window to see if any birds fly by. Keep a journal to log the time of day when you see birds and general characteristics of the birds. Recording the size, shape, color, and behavior of birds can aid in bird identification. In addition, consider building a birdhouse in your backyard, maybe next to your garage to attract more birds, and use a pair of binoculars to study them closely while remaining at a distance.
- What Is the Best Time of Day for Bird-Watching? Learn about the times of day at which to observe many varieties of birds and their seasonal migratory patterns.
- Bird-Watching Tips for Beginners: Becoming comfortable with recognizing bird songs and obtaining a good pair of binoculars or a telescope are two good ways to prepare for bird-watching.
How Do I Attract Birds to My Yard?
Birds fly around in search of food, water, and shelter. Providing the right selection of bird feed, water, and birdhouses can attract many species of birds to your backyard.
Offering food is an excellent way to attract birds. Small seeds, bread, and bird feed can be placed around the yard or near bird houses. Carefully selecting the types of bird feed you use can help attract more species of birds to your yard.
Birdhouses are wonderful tools to attract birds. Make a small birdhouse for hummingbirds or a larger one for ravens and other larger bird species. Birdhouses can be built out of reclaimed wood, teapots, or old chests of drawers. Placing food outside of the birdhouse may encourage birds to perch and stay longer, allowing you to observe them more closely.
Birds like to drink and play in water. Placing birdbaths around your backyard is an excellent way to attract birds. Remember to change the water regularly to ensure that it’s clean.
Integrating shelter, food sources, and water into your backyard helps to provide a sanctuary where birds can visit and live. Allow the grass in your backyard to grow longer and plant a garden to encourage flies and insects. These provide a natural food source for birds, so you’ll be able to observe and record how different bird species hunt for food. Consider leaving small twigs and brush in your backyard to provide material for birds to make nests.
- How to Attract New Birds to Your Backyard: Changing the type of food you put out, the type of shelter you offer, and/or the configuration of these things in your yard can attract new varieties of birds.
- Seven Easy Ways to Attract More Birds to Your Backyard: By allowing grass to grow longer, planting native plants, and avoiding pesticides, you can encourage more varieties of birds to choose your viewing location as a feeding or resting spot.
What Equipment Does Bird-Watching Require?
Strictly speaking, bird-watching does not require any equipment, but having a good pair of binoculars, a bird identification guide, and appropriate outdoor gear can improve your bird-watching experience.
Binoculars magnify objects at a distance, helping you to see birds up close without disturbing them. An inexpensive pair of binoculars that provides 25x magnification is an excellent choice for beginners. Consider bring a camera or using the camera on your smartphone to take pictures of birds as they fly by.
Field Guides and Bird Identification
Field guides are important tools in bird identification. These guides list birds by name and species, indicate their regional abundance, and provide helpful tips for identification. Try to identify and learn the names of birds that visit your backyard.
Birding smartphone apps are excellent tools for bird identification when mobile data or an Internet connection is available. While in the field, you can quickly scroll through bird profiles on your smartphone to identify the bird species that you are watching.
- Bird Identification Smartphone Apps: Many smartphone apps can help you to identify the birds you see.
When walking through wooded areas and brush, having a sturdy pair of hiking boots can be helpful. Consider wearing a rain jacket or carrying a poncho if there is a chance of rain. To avoid sunburn on summer days, wear a broad-brimmed hat and carry sunscreen, and bring water to keep you hydrated while looking for birds.
- How to Start Bird-Watching: A Beginner’s Guide: Decide on the binoculars and other equipment you’ll need to attract and view common varieties of birds.
The Basics of Bird Identification
There are many simple ways to learn bird identification. For example, consider researching the types of birds that are common in your area and learning their color, shape, size, markings, and calls. In the beginning, you might select one type of bird to identify. When you bird-watch, take pictures and record the behavior of any birds that look like the bird type that you are studying. Then, compare your notes to the descriptions provided in a field guide. With practice, you will be able to identify several types of birds quickly and accurately.
- Bird Identification: What Is That Bird? Learning a bird’s song and special markings can help with identification.
- Four Steps to Bird Identification: Avoid common mistakes by recognizing bird groupings and by researching common bird types present in a region.
Make Your Own Birdhouses
Building a birdhouse can be an excellent way to help you get started with bird-watching. Birdhouses are simple and inexpensive to build, and constructing one can be a fun activity for your entire family. Birdhouses can be placed next to a shed, hung from a porch, or secured on top of a pole. Placing multiple birdhouses in your backyard can attract a variety of bird species for you to observe and enjoy.
- Teapot Birdhouse: Create an enjoyable resting place for birds by repurposing a teapot and a drawer to create a birdhouse.
- DIY Birdhouse With a Penny Roof: Make your birdhouse more visually appealing by adding coins to make shingles on the roof.
- How to Make a Stone Birdhouse: Customize the exterior of your birdhouse with stones for a rustic appearance.
- Building a Nail-Less, Screw-Less, Glue-Less Birdhouse: Construct this simple birdhouse that doesn’t need nails, screws, or glue to secure the walls.
- DIY Gourd Birdhouses: Build a custom birdhouse by drilling an opening in a gourd.
- Make a Rustic Birdhouse From an Old Shutter: Learn how to upcycle window shutters to build custom birdhouses.
- Flowerpot Birdhouse: Attract birds to your flowers by constructing birdhouses in flowerpots.
- How to Create Bird Shelters From Brush: Pile brush, twigs, and branches in your backyard to build a natural bird habitat.
- How to Build a Backyard Bird Sanctuary: Provide a sanctuary for birds in your backyard by assembling bird feeders, shelters, and birdbaths.