How to Start Birdwatching – A Brief Guide

Bird watching has become very popular over the last decade or so. There are now hundreds of bird species around the globe. If you want to start birdwatching, where should you begin?

There are plenty of places to go birdwatching. Some of them include national parks, nature reserves, state forests, gardens, and even private estates. The key thing to remember is that birds don’t always hang out near human habitation. They often prefer remote areas away from civilization.

To get started, you’ll need some basic equipment such as binoculars, a field guide, and a pair of comfortable shoes. Once you’ve got these things, you can head outdoors and enjoy the great outdoors. Learn how to start birdwatching.

Do your homework

Before heading out into the wild, make sure you know what you’re looking for. You might be surprised by what you find when you look up in the sky. For example, many people think they see eagles flying overhead but actually it’s just a flock of geese.

You also need to know which season is best for birding. In most parts of the world, spring and fall are the best times to spot birds. However, if you live somewhere with harsh winters, then winter may be the best time to catch sight of wildlife.

Choose an area

Once you have chosen a location, you will need to decide on a specific place to visit. It could be a park, a garden, or a forest. Make sure you choose a place that is close enough to home so that you won’t spend too much money traveling there.

Make sure you bring along a map so that you can plan ahead. This way, you can avoid getting lost. Also, take note of any special features that attract birds to your area. These could include ponds, lakes, rivers, wetlands, or other natural habitats.

The best birding apps and field guides for beginners

If you want to learn more about birdwatching, you can download apps onto your smartphone. These apps help you identify different types of birds and give you information about their habits.

For instance, the iBird app allows you to record sightings of birds using GPS coordinates. You can also use this app to view photos of birds taken by others. Other apps include the Audubon Birds app, which helps you identify birds based on their songs.

Another useful app is the National Geographic Bird Guide. This app provides detailed information about each type of bird found in North America. Another good app is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This app contains information about all kinds of birds including rare ones.

Field guides are another essential tool for birdwatchers. A field guide is a book that contains photographs of birds. Each photograph shows the bird at various angles. This makes it easier to identify the bird.

Field guides come in several sizes. Smaller books contain fewer pages while larger books have more pages. The size of the book depends on the number of birds you wish to study.

When choosing a field guide, make sure it has clear images of the birds. Many field guides have illustrations instead of photographs. If you like reading, try one of the following:

Audubon Field Guide to Western Birds – This book covers over 1,000 species of birds. It includes color photographs of each bird.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America – This book covers over 500 species of birds. It has excellent photographs of each bird.

Birds Photography [Collection]

Ruff water bird
Ruff water bird (philomachus pugnax)
Pied kingfisher
Pied kingfisher
Pelican pelecanus in the park sitting in above the pond
Pelican pelecanus in the park sitting in above the pond
Blue tit, cyanistes caeruleus, sitting on a winter feeder
Blue tit, cyanistes caeruleus, sitting on a winter feeder
Eurasian nuthatch building its nest in a tree trunk
Eurasian nuthatch building its nest in a tree trunk
Bearded tit in its habitat, eating reeds. panurus biarmicus
Bearded tit in its habitat, eating reeds. panurus biarmicus
Colorful brambling, fringilla montifringilla, perched on the ground amid autumn foliage
Colorful brambling, fringilla montifringilla, perched on the ground amid autumn foliage
Birds wryneck jynx torquilla in the wild
Birds wryneck jynx torquilla in the wild

Which bird guide is best for you?

There are two main types of bird guides: field guides and identification guides. Field guides provide general information about the appearance and behavior of birds. Identification guides focus on individual species. They show how to distinguish between similar-looking birds.

Field guides are usually smaller than identification guides. They are often sold as part of a set. For example, the Peterson Field Guides series consists of three volumes: Birds of Eastern North America, Birds of Western North America, and Birds of Central & South America.

Identification guides are available in many formats. Some people prefer to read them on paper while others prefer to use an electronic version. Electronic versions are easy to carry around. However, they require batteries. Paper versions don’t need batteries but they are heavier and bulkier.

You should buy a field guide if you plan to travel outside your home area. Most field guides cover only certain regions. For example, the American Birdguide covers only North America.

You should buy an identification guide if you plan to spend time studying specific birds. An identification guide will allow you to learn more about a particular species.

The best way to choose a field or identification guide is to look online. There are many websites where you can find reviews of different field guides. You can also ask friends and family members what kind of field guide they recommend.

The best field guides are those that are updated regularly. These guides keep up with changes in bird populations. They also include new species.

If you want to start birding, you may be interested in buying a camera. Cameras help you take better pictures of birds. You can then post these photos on the Internet.

If you decide to buy a camera, make sure it’s compatible with your computer. You’ll need software to edit your photos. You can download this from the manufacturer’s website.

Before starting bird watching, you should know some basic facts about birds.

Birds Are Animals

Most people think of birds as living things. But birds are actually animals. Like other animals, birds have feathers, bones, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, organs, and glands.

Birds Have Feathers

The most obvious feature of birds is their feathers. Each feather is made of tiny barbs called barbules. Barbules stick out from the skin. They catch air when birds fly.

Feather Colors

Many birds have colorful plumage. The colors range from white to black. White feathers reflect light. Black feathers absorb light.

Feather Patterns

Some birds have patterns on their feathers. These patterns help identify the species.

Birds Have Bones

Birds have bones just like mammals do. Their bones are covered by thin layers of tissue. When birds eat food, these tissues break down. This process leaves behind small bits of bone.

Birds Have Blood Vessels

Blood vessels run through the body of birds. They deliver oxygen-rich blood to cells throughout the body. They remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

Birds Have Nerves

Nerve endings connect brain cells to muscle fibers. Muscles control movement.

Birds Have Organs

Organs perform many functions. Birds’ eyes see. Their ears hear, their mouths taste, their kidneys filter waste products from the blood.

Birds Have Glands

Glands produce hormones that regulate growth and development. They also secrete substances into the environment.

Birds Have Skin

Skin protects birds from predators. It helps birds maintain a constant temperature, it provides insulation against cold weather, it allows birds to move around easily.

Birds Have Teeth

Teeth help birds chew food. Some birds have teeth for eating seeds. Others use them for grooming.

Birds Have Eyesight

Birds have two types of eyes: compound eyes and simple eyes. Compound eyes contain thousands of lenses. Simple eyes contain only one lens.

Birds Have Ears

Eyesight is not the only sense used by birds. Birds also use hearing. They use ear openings located near the top of their heads.

Birds Can Fly

Birds are able to fly because of their wings. Wings allow birds to glide through the air.

Birds Use Vision To See

Vision is important to birds. They use vision to locate prey, use vision to navigate, use vision to find mates.

Birds Hear With Their Beaks

Birds use their beaks to listen. A bird’s beak contains an organ called an auditory bulla. This organ amplifies sounds.

Birds Eat Food

Birds eat insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, grasses, and grains. Many birds eat worms.

Birds Need Water

Water is essential to birds. They need water to drink, water to clean themselves, need water to keep warm in winter.

Birds Reproduce

Birds reproduce using eggs or chicks. Eggs hatch after being laid. Chicks grow inside eggs until they are ready to leave the nest.

Birds Live In Families

Birds live in families. Parents care for young. Young learn how to hunt and feed.

Birds Are Social Animals

Birds form social groups. Groups include parents with young. Groups also include adults who mate.

Birds Build Nesting Sites

Birds build nests to protect their eggs and young. Nests can be made out of sticks, twigs, leaves, moss, feathers, hair, mud, and even paper.

Birds Lay Eggs

Birds lay eggs on land or in trees. Most birds lay white eggs. Some birds lay brown eggs.

Birds Hatch Eggs

After laying eggs, some birds incubate them. Incubation means keeping eggs warm so that babies will develop properly.

Birds Hunt Prey

Birds hunt prey such as insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds.

Birds Care For Young

After hatching, young birds stay close to their parents. When they are old enough, young birds leave their parents.

Birds Die

When birds die, they become part of the natural cycle of life.

Bird Watching Tips

1. Learn about the different kinds of birds.

2. Know what you want to do when you go bird watching.

3. Wear comfortable clothes.

4. Bring binoculars.

5. Make sure your camera has good batteries.

6. Keep quiet while observing birds.

7. Don’t disturb birds.

8. Watch birds carefully.

9. Look at birds’ feet.

10. Listen closely.

11. Try to identify birds.

12. Write down information about birds you see.

13. Collect bird specimens.

Best Places to Go Birdwatching for Beginners

1. National Parks

2. State Parks

3. Wildlife Refuges

4. Nature Preserves

5. Private Properties

6. Public Gardens

7. Community Centers

8. Neighborhood Parks

9. Local Farms

10. Backyards

11. Woods

12. Wetlands

13. Lakes

14. Rivers

15. Mountains

16. Deserts

Connect With Other Birders

There are many ways to connect with other birdwatchers.

  • You can join a local bird club.
  • attend bird walks.
  • visit nature centers.
  • watch videos online.
  • read books.
  • write letters to friends.
  • talk to people at work.
  • make new friends.

Travel to See More Birds

You can travel to see more birds. There are many places where you can find birds. The best place to start looking for birds is right outside your home. If you don’t have time to travel far away from home, try visiting parks near you.

Find Out About Bird Clubs

If you want to get involved with bird clubs, check out the American Bird Conservancy website. This site offers lots of information about bird clubs.

  • It lists all the state organizations and national organizations.
  • tells you about membership requirements.
  • gives you contact information for each organization.
  • provides links to websites that offer more information about bird clubs.

Join a Bird Club

If you’re interested in joining a bird club, check out the American Ornithologists’ Union website. This site also includes information about bird clubs. You’ll learn how to join a bird club, what it’s like to belong to one, and what benefits you may receive.

Attend Bird Walks

If you live near a park or forest, you might be able to attend a bird walk. A bird walk is an organized event where people gather to look for birds. Many bird walks include activities such as bird identification, photography, and bird feeding. Check with your local Audubon Society chapter or wildlife refuge to find out if there are any scheduled events nearby.

Visit Nature Centers

Many cities have nature centers. These centers provide information about plants and animals. They often host special programs. Visit these centers to learn about birds.


Birding is fun! It’s easy to enjoy birdwatching. All you need is patience, curiosity, and some basic knowledge. Once you’ve learned how to observe birds, you’ll never forget them again. is supported by its readers. When you buy through our links, we may receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Check disclaimer and about us.