Learning to watch birds…
Curiosity: If you have ever looked out your window and wondered what the bird in your yard is, you already have the first ingredient necessary to become a birder….curiosity! To go to the next step you don’t need much – more of that curiosity, a field guide, and perhaps a pair of binoculars, and you are on your way.
Resources: There are lots of good field guides available to help you identify what you are seeing—Sibley’s, Stokes, and Peterson’s are popular and there are field guides especially for kids. There are apps for your cell phone that keep your field guide immediately available, such as Sibley’s, iBird, National Geographic, Audubon, and others.
Subscribing to listservs such as GeneseeBirds-L Digest will help you know where birds are being found and reported on in our region. When traveling, a compilation of nation-wide listservs can be found at SIALIA.COM. Increasingly, birders check eBird, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. On this site you can even choose a bird you would like to find and eBird will tell you where in the country, or even the world it has been seen within specific time periods. This is amazing technology that we encourage all birders to use.
Record Keeping: Keep a list of what you see. Most birders keep a life list and many keep annual lists, trip lists or locale lists.
The more you look, the more you see. You can download an RBA checklist to get you started.
A digital camera is a great way to capture a picture long enough to identify a bird that doesn’t fit the book’s pictures or that moved so quickly you need a better look. An inexpensive digital camera is also a great tool for kids to learn about birds.
Learning More: You don’t need to go it alone. Birders, especially those you’ll find in the RBA, are generous with their time and knowledge. A trip with a knowledgeable birder will help you see things that you might have missed on your own. The Rochester Birding Association has field trips for all levels including beginning birders which are fun and informative.
Learning how to look and “see” is a big part of becoming a birder. Join our club so we can help you! Click below!