Where Should You Go Birding?
August 26, 2021
By Bird Watcher’s Digest Staff
Welcome to the wonderful world of bird watching! If you’ve already begun paying closer attention to the birdy world around you, you’re no doubt seeing birds everywhere these days. Birding is something you can do anywhere: in the city, in the country, in your backyard, in your local parks and nature preserves, and in your travels. You can incorporate birding into a family cookout, work travel, family vacations, your morning commute, or even a few free hours on the weekend. You can do it in every season and in every corner of the planet. Birding can happen anytime, anywhere, and with any person who’s interested.
So, where should you go to begin your bird watching adventures? The answer is simple. Start close to home—in your own backyard, on your apartment balcony, or in your local park. Do you walk in your neighborhood regularly? Start taking your binoculars with you and listen and look for birds along the way. Do you have a nearby woodlot? If so, those trees are probably visited frequently by a variety of bird species, and perhaps even hosting nesting birds at certain times of the year. Keep your binoculars close at hand, and begin listening for birds, then follow their sound and try and find them with your binoculars. You’ll be amazed at the already-existing bird world that’s living right under your nose—it’s a parallel universe, and most people are oblivious to it!
If you have a place to put an outdoor bird-feeding station in your yard or on your balcony or patio, this is a great way to get started watching birds. If you’d like some great tips for getting started with backyard bird feeding, check out this article from Bird Watcher’s Digest! You will want to do a little research on what to buy and feed birds in each season, because believe it or not, bird feeding is not a one-size-fits-all experience. For example, traditional wild bird seed mixes do not belong in tube feeders, but rather on platform feeders and on the ground. The easiest and best year-round bird seed to use in most wild bird feeders and most areas of the country is black oil sunflower seed. You can find this at most home improvement stores, or anywhere you can buy lawn and garden supplies. You can also purchase high-quality bird food delivered right to your front door at prdseed.com. If you begin feeding birds in your yard, you’ll be endlessly entertained! You’ll also get to know their songs, sounds, and behavior as you watch them interact at your bird feeders. At first, you’ll probably notice some species you’ve never seen before. See if you can identify their species! You’ll probably see them again.
Perhaps you’re ready to venture out of your backyard and explore some good birding areas nearby. Where should you begin when looking for a birding hotspot near you? Grab your smartphone, tablet, or computer and visit this hotspot birding locator hosted by eBird. eBird, the world’s largest website for citizen science and bird finding is easy to use and has the very best up-to-date information on where to find birds. Just zoom in on the map and find not only great birding hotspots near you but also learn what birds you’re likely to see when you visit! When you zoom in far enough, you’ll see colored “pins” that designate birding hotspots. Click on one, and you’ll see the name of the place, how many species have been reported there, seasonal bar charts of species seen, and a link to get directions to the hotspot. We encourage you to become acquainted with eBird as soon as possible so you can learn all about the awesome birding locations close to home, and even contribute reports to the database so that others can find out what birds you’ve seen and where.
We also recommend that you find a local birding club near you. Now, lest you think these are exclusive, posh, members-only, country-club-type clubs, they aren’t! Most local bird clubs are full of friendly, welcoming people who love having new folks join them for bird walks and birding events. Many local birding events are free to attend. The National Audubon Society has a web page that can help you find a birding group near you. Check out https://www.audubon.org/about/audubon-near-you and learn more about Audubon groups in your city, state, and region.
You might also consider doing a web search for local city and state parks, local nature preserves and wetlands, national wildlife refuges, or even national parks near you. Most of these locations schedule frequent bird walks that are open to the public and led by knowledgeable, local birding guides who will help you learn more about the birds in your area.
Are you planning a work or pleasure trip in the near future? Remember, both of these recommended websites will help you find birding hotspots wherever you happen to be in the world! Be sure to check out the birding hotspots near the places you’ll be visiting and try to incorporate an afternoon or full day of birding into your plans. There are many different birds and habitats in different areas of the US, and it’s always exciting to see new birds in new and different habitats and locations. Be sure to always take your binoculars with you when you travel.
Remember, birding is not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Start looking, listening, and learning every time you step outside. Always take binoculars with you because you’re sure to see something interesting, and you’ll want to get a much closer look than you can experience with your naked eye.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get outside, see some birds, and begin to experience the joy of birding and allow it to enrich your life!