How to Take Your First Birding Outing



Buy a good up-to-date guidebook.,
Get a pair of lightweight binoculars.,
Start in your own backyard.,
Read the beginning of the book to learn the typical field markings that you must learn to identify and look for.,
Start with a bird you may already know, just for practice.,
Find the page with the known bird on it and read the description.,
Identify a bird you may not know for sure.,
Go out to a park and identify a new bird.,
Hold your binoculars on a new bird and look at it carefully.,
Find a general category in the book and page through to find a similar picture.

There are several classics, including the Peterson Field Guides or National Geographic. Start at your book store or nature center for those covering your area.;
, Heavy ones meant for sports won’t work when you want to hold still and stare up for a long time.

, You don’t need to go to any special place to practice the basic steps.

, These include colors of various parts, size, shape of tail, type of beak and feet, walking or flying patterns, and calls.

, You may know a robin or blue jay. Now learn how to find it in the book. The book is arranged by family of birds and you need to learn what each kind is- water bird, hunting bird, songbird, etc.

, Notice how it identifies the bird by its markings and then compare those to the bird in front of you. You already knew the robin has a red breast, but how does the entry describe it? Notice what it says about the beak, or tail.

, At this stage, try to find one in your backyard, so you don’t need to use binoculars. Again first find the correct section of the book, then page through until you find a picture that looks like your bird. Read the description and compare with the bird. If it’s wrong, try another picture.

, Once you practiced at home a few times, go and find a place to sit (picnic table, etc.). Sit quietly for up to 10 minutes and look for movement in the bushes or branches. Practice using your binoculars to locate the bird, focus on it, and move as it moves.

, Notice as much as you can as quickly as you can, before it disappears. Notice in this order: size, basic colors, shape of head and bill. If you have enough time, notice colors around the eye, colors on/under the wings and tail, color of breast.

, Read the description. Try to find the same bird again to confirm and check the details. Read nearby descriptions until you find a potential match. This is your probable bird.

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