One of the things that really amazed me when I was doing some research for this article on bird watching was how many people love doing it. You’d think that baseball was america’s pastime or football, hockey or any of the other major sports, but no, Birdwatching is the number one pastime in North America! Go Figure! So with this in mind I decided to offer up some tips to make America’s most popular spectator sport a bit more successful.
#1. Finding Birds to watch:
Duh! This may sound like a no-brainer type question but you’d be surprised how many people travel many miles to locations that are really crappy places to view the species they are after. It’s kind of like fishing for Marlin in the local lake, not likely to happen. So unless you have a great local park or backyard habitat you need visit areas that are conducive to birding. Wildlife management areas and refuges are perfect for this and are scattered all across North America and the world.
To find one in your area, visit http://refuges.fws.gov/
#2. Know local species:
Identifying a particular species of bird is not as difficult as you may think, especially if you do a little preparation before you head out. With so many species of birds in North America you can’t be excpected to know them all, but you can do some research on those that inhabit your area. you may want to create a log book and detail what species you have seen, where you saw it and the time day and year. This will help you get used to any migratory species of birds as well.
#3. Tools of the trade:
Binoculars, buy the best you can afford. A quality pair of binoculars can make all the difference in your Bird Watching experience. You can be in one of the best places in North America for bird watching but if you are using subpar binoculars your viewing experience will be severely diminished. Today’s binoculars are equipt with incredible technology that is essential for the best wildlife viewing experience. Some features that are available on better quality binoculars are anti-fog lenses and image stabilization. Nothing can ruin a day more than a lens that you must constantly wipe clean or a shaky image if viewing at a distance.
#4. Practice makes perfect:
Wildlife, especially birds usually do not hold still for very long, so if you can’t pinpoint them in your spotting scope or binoculars quickly, you may have a very frustrating day. This is sometimes easier said than done unless you practice getting the eyepiece adjusted to a comfortable distance from your eyes and a starting focus for you that is easy to adjust. Practice by letting the binoculars hang on your neck or by your side and then pick them up and try to focus on something at various distances. Do this for stationary objects and for moving objects such as a car or plane. Cautionary tip, not wise to practice near a nude beach, just trust me on this one!
#5. It’s better with friends:
Taking a friend along is a great way to enjoy the day but it also gives you an extra set of eyes to scope out the territory. Many times I was out with my brother looking in one direction when an bird or animal was moving in the other. Although I do enjoy the solitude of being alone in the woods, not every trip has to be a solo one. Take a friend or teach someone new the joys of birding.
Just like any sport, preparation is essential to get the most out of your day. You can be in the the best birding trail in the country but if you not sure what to do when something comes into view it can be very disheartening. Some of the best birdwatching areas like the Florida birding trail make it easy to get where the wildlife is, be prepared when that amazing wildlife viewing opportunity presents itself!