The Ultimate Guide to Birdwatching

Birdwatching – or birding – has been a popular pastime around the world for centuries. Long have people marveled at the beauty, behavior, and mystery of the world’s many species of birds. Perhaps one of Earth’s most fascinating creatures, they are at once delicate and magnificent. If you’re interested in learning about birdwatching – or you already are an avid birder looking for more ways to connect to all the great resources out there, keep reading. Here you’ll find everything from equipment reviews and identification guides to fun lessons for kids.

Help With Bird Identification

Identifying the birds you’re studying is one of the most important – and exciting – parts of birding. You don’t have to rely on a field guide alone to help you figure it out. There’s a lot of information available at a glance if you know where to look. The following sites offer some fantastic tools and resources for identifying birds around the world.

Inside Birding: All About Birds – From the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology comes this great site, filled with all the latest information about birds and birdwatching. There are even some fun videos to show you how to observe like the experts.

How to Start Birdwatching – For the beginning birder, this article gives a great outline of what you should know and do when you first start out. You’ll learn which types of birds to look for depending on the climate and season, along with plenty of pointers for making the most out of your birding experience.

What Bird – This site has a bird identification tool that lets you search for species by location, appearance, and more. There are also app and product reviews, articles and quizzes, as well as a lively forum where you can talk with other birders.

USGS Bird Identification Pages – The U.S. Geological Survey provides this page of simple and useful resources for bird identification in North and Central America. There’s a vast photo library, and even audio clips of particular bird songs.

Birdwatching as a Family

Birding is not necessarily a solitary pursuit. Many people have discovered that birdwatching is a passion that can easily be shared as a family. It’s a great way to enjoy family time together without giving in to the sensory-overload type entertainment that we are all subjected to so often. It’s easy to involve everyone, young and old, and even the smallest children delight in observing beautiful birds in their natural habitat. The articles and websites in this section will provide you with plenty of great information to help get you started with family birdwatching.

The Audubon Society’s Birding Tips for Families – If you’re interested in taking your kids birdwatching, start here. There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate birding into your family’s activities.

A Variety of Birdfeeders – Birdwatching often starts in your own backyard, and you want to attract as many local birds as possible. This is a quick list of different types of birdfeeders you can make with your family using everyday materials.

National Geographic Birding Resources – You’ll have to sign up for a (free) user account, but you’ll have access to National Geographic’s wealth of beautiful videos, photos, and useful articles.

Kids Birding – Kids Birding is an excellent site for young birders to check out, or for everyone to enjoy together as a family. It is run by a young author and bird enthusiast and is filled with articles, videos, how-to guides, and helpful links.

Educational Birdwatching Resources

Many parents and educators choose to include birdwatching related lessons in their curriculum. Birding not only shows students how to conduct field research, but it can provide a fun way to teach about biology, ecology, and conservation. Check the links below for quality educational programs and lesson plans that are free to use for parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in using birdwatching as an educational tool.

Birdwatching Education Pages – Try the Audobon Society’s education pages to find excellent lesson plans and activity ideas for school age kids. All are designed with the organization’s principles of conservation and restoration in mind.

Virtual Bird – The Illinois Natural History Society offers this online educational series free to the public as part of its Virtual Birding program. Some lessons are area-specific, but can easily be adjusted as needed.

General Birdwatching Resources

Another great thing about birding is that there is an enthusiastic and helpful community of fellow enthusiasts out there. The internet helps to connect groups of bird lovers around the world. Of course, some birdwatching websites are better than others. The sites listed here are all reliable sources of information and all are excellent places to go for facts, tips, guides, networking, and more.

Fatbirder – Fatbirder is a huge online community filled with articles about different types of birds, birding techniques, and equipment reviews. There are also links to books and magazines for birdwatching enthusiasts.

American Birding Association – The ABA is a nonprofit group that provides a wealth of resources for amateur and expert bird lovers alike. Find information about birding conventions, download free area-specific birdwatching guides, and join in conversations with other birders.

Hotspots Near You – Birdwatching Daily provides this interactive Google map to help you zone in on all the best places to go birding, no matter where you are.

NPS Index of Birdwatching Pages – National parks and nature preserves are great places to go birdwatching, and the National Parks Service keeps birding information pages for all of the parks in its system.

The American Bird Conservancy – This nonprofit organization is among the most trusted bird conservation and awareness groups around. Their site is chock-full of information about various types of birds and their value in our ecosystem. You can also join them in their advocacy for habitat preservation and public education.

Birding Equipment and Technology

Birdwatching has come a long way since the early days of sketching in a notebook. Modern technology has increased the both the professional and layperson’s ability to spot, identify, and study bird species. Whether you go old-school or high-tech, you’ll need at least some equipment to get started. Check out the following links for information about gear, tools, and technology.

Tech Birder – Tech Birder is a fun blog chronicling the birdwatching adventures of a conservation biologist. There’s lots of great firsthand information, product reviews, and links to other great birding sites run by the author.

iBird App Comparison – There are quite a few birding apps on the market. This comparison chart makes it easy to figure out which one is best for you before you do any downloading.

Bird Watchers Digest Optics and Gear – On this page, you’ll find links to several gear-related articles and product reviews to help you choose the best bird watching equipment for your needs.

Cornell University Binocular Guide – Binoculars are one of the key pieces of equipment you’ll need to consider if you’re going to get serious about birding. This incredibly thorough article from Cornell’s Ornithology department runs you through everything you need to know about binoculars, and there’s even an extensive comparison table to help you figure out which brand best suits your needs.