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The beginner's guide to bird-watching

  • Mar 18, 2017

Maybe you spotted a hawk's nest on the corner of the apartment building opposite yours. Or maybe more birds have begun to appear in your backyard with the return of warm weather, trilling birdsongs and looking for food during the spring migration. Whatever happened, you've got birds on the brain, so why not explore this interest further by giving bird-watching a try? Many people have found observing birds in their natural habitats a rewarding hobby for its easy accessibility and opportunities for reflective engagement with nature. Keep reading to learn how to take your interest in birds to the next level.

Gear up
Unlike many outdoor sports, bird-watching doesn't require sophisticated equipment or expensive tools. Binoculars can be nice for getting a closer look at a bird's plumage or other qualities from far away, but if you don't happen to own a pair they're by no means necessary.

An illustrated bird guide can also be helpful for identifying the species that you see in the field. Birds are fast and don't often stand still for photographs, so when you spot a new bird, Bird Watcher's Digest advises concentrating on field marks like shape, size and plumage to help narrow your search. A good field guide will include all of this information, as well as a species' migratory patterns and a description of its birdcall.

In the field
Some bird-watchers like to record bird sightings in journals or a note on their phones. Keeping a bird journal can enrich the experience of bird-watching by enhancing your observational skills. In addition, having a written record of your bird-watching experience can also be rewarding when looking back to help you remember your observations, or to relive what made a certain sighting feel special. If you want to keep a bird journal, some good information to track might be the location where you saw a bird, the weather for that day, and the time that you saw it. The ProTrek PRW3100Y-3 triple sensor watch, in addition to telling time, has sunrise and sunset data - helpful for noting a species of bird which may be more active at dusk or at night.

One of the greatest aspects of bird-watching as a hobby is that it's accessible to anyone, anywhere.

"Everywhere you go, there will be birds," ornithologist and professional bird-watcher Noah Strycker told The Independent in 2016. "Even in the middle of the Bronx, you can look up and at least see a pigeon."

 Whether you live in a large city or the middle of the woods, bird-watching is a great hobby to pursue. The next time you hear a woodpecker at work or spot a blue jay in the park, you'll know what to do.

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