If you are a nature enthusiast or curious to know and learn more about nature, birdwatching might just be the right hobby for you. You might start to notice small details in your surroundings, or find yourself more in tune with the passing of the seasons. Ultimately, birdwatching can be your gateway into recognising, appreciating or connecting with a wider world that was there all along.
Where should I start from?
Usually, the enthusiasm starts from noticing birds in our backyard or in a public garden near your home or job. After that, there are several different initial approaches to birdwatching. You can start either by spending time outside looking and listening to the birds around you or by reading information on the internet or studying bird books. Our recommendation is to combine both, i.e., spend some time looking at the birds near you and keeping a bird book where you can flip through regularly.
What do I need to start Birdwatching?
Birdwatching is a rather low-cost hobby and can also be minimalist. There are only 4 things you will need to have to start birding: Bird Guide, Binoculars, Field Journal, and Positive Attitude.
Bird guides are essential for learning and identifying bird species. So, no matter how simple or complex it might be, a field bird guide is the handiest tool for a birdwatcher. Therefore, you must have and carry one when you go outside for some birdwatching. Guides are available in all shapes, sizes and formats. Check our article about the subject to help you purchase your pair.
Binoculars are vital for a fulfilled birding experience, although it is possible to birdwatch without them. After all, that’s the only way we can get the birds closer to us. You don’t need to have an expensive pair of binoculars. Particularly, if you are a beginner, you can start by borrowing a pair from a friend or second-hand deals. If you don’t know how to choose the ideal binoculars for you, consider reading our article on that subject here.
Field journals are very powerful to register your observations and therefore learn from them. They are particularly important for beginners as they allow them to record important details that can later help to get the correct identification of a bird. Plus, they are an excellent way to learn about bird identification, as they “force” the birder to pay attention to the details of the birds. You might have just the perfect birdwatching journal for you here.
A positive attitude is the right “partner” for a beginner birdwatcher. Presence, patience and curiosity are key ingredients for birdwatching. Be present and mindful while in nature, notice the surroundings and pay attention to the sounds of nature and all its beautiful details.
On the other hand, patience might be the hardest skill needed to be successful in birdwatching. Learn to disconnect from the world and take the pace of nature. Learn to be patient with yourself and with the birds.
And in order to become a good birder, you have to be curious. You should want to name the birds, distinguish one another, explore different places, habitats and seasons.
Lastly, be willing to spend time in nature and no matter how we will be rewarded.
Why should I start practising birdwatching?
Birdwatching is an activity that you can practice anytime and anywhere. A nature activity proved to be a good health tool, helping with problems like anxiety, for example. Plus, despite some initial investment, it can be a low-cost activity. You can either enjoy birding alone or among family, friends or community. Either way, birding can also become a challenging and rewarding activity, as you will easily find something new all the time. Thus, the observation of birds in the wild can be a fun, challenging endeavour that you can either practice alone or with a company.
How can I birdwatch?
First of all, you should keep in mind that time of the day, location, weather and season influence your birding experience.
Then, you ought to start to get to know the regular birds around you, either in your garden or neighbourhood. Step-by-step, explore the surroundings and find a good birdwatching spot, like a wildlife area or a natural protected area, where you are likely to get familiar with more and more species.
Explore the time of the day and seasons and notice how the movement around you changes. Typically birds are more active in the early hours and later hours of the day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bird during the remaining of the day. It will all depend on a combination of factors like location, weather and season.
Be patient and respect distances. Accept your pace of learning and the fact that some species are hard to see and don’t try it at every cost. Instead, invest your time studying their behaviour better and keep trying other times.
Respect nature. Activities in nature, such as birdwatching, require some ethics and common sense. Respecting nature and biodiversity is vital to preserving natural areas. Plus, responsible behaviour will also allow us to better enjoy our experience outdoors.
Take notes and keep practising. Like everything you do, practice helps you to improve your skills. So, practice birding whenever and wherever you can. Also, take notes of your observations, and they will help you on every aspect mentioned in the points above. If you want to know how to keep your field notebook, check our previous article here.
Where can I birdwatch?
One of the most practical options is to search the internet for places or areas that are worth a visit. For that purpose, there are several platforms presenting you locations for birding, highlighting hotspots, i.e., ideal places for birdwatching suggested by other birdwatchers. Two examples of websites you can visit are eBird and Find a birding place. You can find out more about this matter here.
Alternatively, you can use social media platforms such as Facebook and ask for suggestions from other birders on birding-related groups - we suggest this one Connecting Birdwatchers.