Better Birdwatching from RCS Optics

New to birdwatching? Here is some basic information on how to get up to speed with birders from across the country. 

Birdwatching is really fun and easy. By getting out to your local green belt, local park, or state park, you will have an opportunity to experience the amazing plumage coloring awaiting you and to learn and share with others; perhaps a friend, or child, or grandchildren. There are several ways to start out birdwatching but going with a local group will help you to get a better grasp of the activity.

Common Bird Identification

Most folks, can identify several, if not many, birds by their general name, for example, an oriole or a sparrow. But did you know that there are nine different species of orioles in the USA and nearly three dozen species of sparrows? Most likely not all are common to your home state or region. The point is that birders like to make a positive identification using their full name; for example a Bullocks Oriole or Harris's Sparrow. A sparrow is not just a sparrow. Learn more about bird identification.

 When To Go

As the seasons change, so will birdwatching opportunities. The greatest number of species can be found during the spring and fall migrations. Male birds will exhibit their breeding plumage during the spring migration. It should go without saying that many birding enthusiasts go year round, depending on what part of the country that  you are birding. Generally, many birding opportunities exist from April through late June and late August through early October. Winter time can also be an opportunity to see uncommon winter visitors.

What To Bring

The basics includes a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope, and a field guide. You may want to bring along a small notepad and pen to jot down a list. A very good app that helps beginners out is Merlin. Merlin will walk you through the identification process based on some basic questions that you answer. Don't forget personal needs such as water, insect repellant, sunscreen, small first aid kit, healthy snacks, and appropriate clothing.

Birding by Ear

Birding by ear becomes an important tool to finding and identifying birds in dense forest canopies. Often times many species are heard before they are seen. Learning songs is a slow process. With many birds chirping it may be hard to differentiate different bird songs. Take it slow and commit to learning one or two songs a season or at a pace that is comfortable for you. Some common birds such as a mourning dove, pheasant, bluejays, or pigeons, have easily identifiable songs.  

Bird Features

Habitat

Many birds have preferred habitats that they will be found in. For example shore birds will be found along the shores of lakes and rivers. Wooded swamps, lakes, and rivers can be preferred by other birds. Upland game birds will be found in open plains and grasslands. Woodlands are of course where the majority of birds can be found. Even then birds nesting habits are also different, depending upon species, as some build nests, others are cavity nesters and some are burrowing nesters. Learn more about bird habitat.

Birding Festivals

 Birding Festivals are a great opportunity to socialize with other folks who also enjoy birding. They are held at many locations across the country and throughout the year. In addition to field trips many festivals will have presentations and social events that are enjoyable to partake in. Festival Calendar.

Merlin

No, we are not talking about a small species of falcon common to the northern hemisphere. We are talking about a great app that is available for iPhone and android. This app is great for beginners and experienced birders alike. Developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the app will help you to identify birds that you see in the field. It asks basic information such as size of bird, main colors, and location. It will then present the most probable species based on its comprehensive database. This is a great resource that pairs well with a fine field guide. Find it at iTunes or the Google Play store. You will be glad you did.

 

 

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