man birding and looking towards foggy mountains with binoculars

Birding for Beginners

What is birding?

Birding is a shorthand for birdwatching. Birdwatching is the hobby of observing and identifying birds. Some enthusiasts even travel internationally to find rare birds and keep long term catalogs of birds they’ve seen. Simply, birding is also a cheap lifetime activity, meaning it requires little physical or material prerequisites to participate in.

Is Birding for me?

Birding definitely isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Different people enjoy the outdoors in different ways. Some people appreciate the stillness, silence and careful cataloging that bird watching requires. However, others may prefer more active pursuits like trail running or hiking. All that matters is you enjoy it!

man using rangefinder while golfingWhere do I Bird?

Anywhere there are birds really! A quick Google Search will bring up a variety of destinations nearby or within your state. You could even birdwatch on your lunch break at a local park. Any place with birds will do, but there are parks all over the world that are specific destinations for birders due to their rare habitats or endangered species. A local or state park is a great destination to start.

How do I bird?

Birding can be as simple as looking at birds around you or as complex as recording their songs and cataloging them by area and date seen. The decision is all yours. On the other hand, some people will search out a specific bird by habitat and season, others will observe a habitat for the birds that live within it.

close up of hand holding binoculars for birdingWhat do I need to bird?

We recommend some form of optic to magnify birds and a simple bird identification guide to find out what species they are. You might prefer a rangefinding binocular or monocular based upon what is more comfortable and easier to use. Also a bird identification guide is important to understand what you're looking at. Simple guides organize birds by color, while advanced guides organize birds by their specific taxonomy. Other birders might bring a sketchbook to draw birds they see or a portable microphone to record bird calls they hear. There are also a wide variety of different apps for birders to use as resources in the field.

Who birds?

Surprisingly, birding can be a social activity for some. Therefore, there is quite a large birding community and it’s surprisingly easy to find a birding group nearby. Online groups such as the American Birding Association also have news, guides, best practices, and other birding information.