Birding Lessons
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As we travel around, we've become more and more intrigued by the different bird species, and the behavior of individual birds, that we encounter. Our skill at identification is slowly improving - by both eye and ear. Here are some things we've learned as beginning birders.
DO Don't
  • Buy a lighweight pair of reasonably good binoculars to have at the ready at all times.
  • Take your binoculars with you wherever you go - when camping, we even take them with us when we go to the bath house. You never know what you'll see.
  • Carry a small field guide with you wherever you go to help with identification.
  • Before you take note of plumage, first, notice a bird's size and shape , its behavior, and the habitat it's in. After a while that may be all you need for a close identification.
  • Listen to bird calls and songs on a CD and practice identifying birds by their voice.
  • Better yet, put them all into an iPod that you carry around with you.
  • When you hear someone singing, repeat the song over and over to yourself, then listen to some recorded songs and try to identify likely candidates.
  • When you hear a singer, grab the binoculars and track the him/her down for a visual identification while it is singing.
  • Read often about birds and bird behavior. The wonder and mystery of these small creatures will open your heart to the magic of life.
  • In your backyard, keep a bird bath full of clean water.
  • Assume you've made an identification until you're sure of it.
  • Come to a certain identification without checking all of the following: size; shape; behavior; field marks; habitat; and range; and (if possible) song.
  • Disturb birds that are feeding, especially during migration.
  • Forget to regularly look up to find birds: flying, soaring, or perched on high places.
  • By all means, keep track of what you see, and where, as best fits for you - but don't become a combat birder.
  • Fail to keep track of where the birds are, and what they're doing, at and near the various places you travel.
  • Feed birds unless you're aware of how this might affect their normal migratory behavior.
  • Stress birds by deliberately flushing them.
  • Walk in front of the leader when you go on a group birding trip.

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

Home | Site Map | Cruising | Logs | Seminar | Writing | Growing Old | Photos | Nuggets | Contact