A Step By Step Guide For Beginning Birders

beginning birders

Anyone can learn about birds. Photo via Flickr.

Beginning birders should follow a few simple steps to become familiar with birds.  Learning about birds is a great introduction to the natural world.

I know I’ve remarked on it before, but I’m going to say it again.  Anytime that you go or even just look outside you are likely to see birds.  This makes learning about birds a great first step towards gaining a better appreciation of the natural world around you.  Here are some simple steps to help set you on your way.

A Starting Point For Beginning Birders

Please think of this step-by-step guide as simply a starting point for beginning birders.  As you learn more about birds you will come up with your own ideas and practices.  I put this together to simply help those people who are looking for some general guidance to get them started.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are doing this for fun!  Don’t ever forget why you are doing this.  It is fun to go for walk, hike, or sit outside and observe birds and the natural world.

beginning birdersStep-By-Step Guide For Beginning Birders

1.  Congratulations on your interest in learning about birds!  You have already taken the first step, which is the interest or desire to learn about birds.

2.  Buy a field guide to the birds of your area.  A good field guide will help you know what birds are in your area.  It is important that you find a guide to your area as opposed to all of North America.  There are way more birds in all of North America than just in your area and that book will simply complicate finding a bird in the book.

Once you have the book, I would suggest just flipping through it to become acquainted with how it is organized.  The more familiar you are with the book, the easier it will be to use in the field when you are actually trying to figure out what a bird you see is.

beginning birders

This family is quietly observing the Rocky Mountains.

3.  Start observing the world around you.  This sounds simple and obvious, but as Sherlock Holmes says, ‘seeing and observing are not the same.’  When I say observing, I mean that you need to really pay attention to what is around you.  Look closely at the trees and you may see some birds.  What was that flash of movement down by those bushes?

As you observe closely, begin to get a sense of the overall size, shape, and color of a bird in a flash.  Oftentimes you will not have a lot of time to look at the bird and you need to take in as much information as you can in that brief snapshot.

4.  Learn about the basic features of a bird so that you know what to look for when you are in the field.  This is important because knowing the general features of a bird will help you know what to look for when you see a bird in the field.  Some of the things that you may want to look for is the tail, beak shape, crown, legs, habitat, and color.  Here is a simple bird diagram to help you.

beginning birders

What do you notice about this bird?

5.  Start to observe bird behavior.  After you have familiarized yourself with the basics to identify the bird, the next step is to watch how the bird behaves.  This is the fun part.  Stay still, either standing or find a nice place to sit and just observe a bird.  How does it fly?  Does it soar high up in the air or does it fly around quickly like a tiny fighter plane?  Does it perch high up in a tree alone or does it fly in a flock?

There are an endless list of things that you notice and learn about bird behavior.  I would suggest that when you being you just start watching birds and see what interests you.  Afterwards, when you return home you can research that behavior to see why the bird was doing what it did.

Interested In Learning More About Birding?

You can always learn and practice the 6 tips on watching and finding birds.

Or try to learn and practice these 6 tips to identify birds.