If you are reading this, I am sure that you enjoy nature and are fascinated by birds. Well, bird watching – more popularly known as birding surely is a fun activity and does get you close to nature. There is no need to wear those khaki shorts and a hat to be a birder. Just read these birding tips for beginners to get started and explore a whole new world.
Don’t stay indoors. Go ahead and wear your trekking shoes. Move around your locality and browse around. I am sure you shall notice few birds either flying from one branch to another, hopping around or hunting for food. Simply observe. If you are visiting some resort or a new city; ask the local staff about a good road to trek where there are chances of seeing some birds. When there on the trek, take your own time – walk slowly and quietly. Look for movements in branches or shrubs. Listen to the bird calls. Enjoy!
Remember, the best times to go for a walk are either early mornings or late afternoons. These are the times when our avian friends are the most active. The advantage of going out early in the morning is that no one else is around to disturb the birds. You will be able to watch their natural behaviour. Do note that birds are less active in poor weather or when it is windy. After the bad phase of the weather passes, they tend to be more active as they need to make up for the food time that they have missed.
Have you seen some birders who seem to have an extra eye and can spot a bird from distance or even in dense habitat? Well, the only thing that made them such experts was practice. Finding birds is mostly a matter of being aware and knowing where to look. Refer to this article where Team BoG has tried to cover how to spot and identify a bird: https://www.birdsofgujarat.in/about-birds/identify-bird/
Binoculars is the first thing that should be on your list. Binoculars have a large Field of View (FoV) along with magnification power. If you plan to buy one, I suggest that you first borrow, use and then buy. Look for binoculars that are waterproof, can focus easily, and has at least 8x magnification and a 30 to 42mm front lens.
Once you have your binoculars, go ahead and get a small field guide. Field guides are pocket books which have pictures of birds and tips to identify them. Don’t try to memorize all the birds that you see in the field guide. I suggest you first learn to identify birds by family rather than its Common Name. Use bird families like Herons, Egrets, Cranes, Bee-eaters, etc. to narrow your search in the field guide. Trust me, you shall be able to name the bird very easily over time once you have learnt to identify a bird by its family.
Do you know why nature trekkers, wildlife enthusiasts and birders wear khaki or camouflaged clothes? Firstly, they are nature friendly and not alarming. They merge in the natural foliage and make it difficult for the bird or wildlife to spot you. Secondly, even if they get smeared with dirt, they don’t make you look dirty. Choose clothes that blend in to the habitat such as camouflaged colours or subdued shades of brown, green and grey. Avoid bright colours, especially white. Also, avoid clothes that make noise or crackling sound. We do not want to startle the birds for sure.
After spotting and viewing the bird, note down your observations for later reference. Note down things like feather colours, markings, the behaviour, habitat, etc. Write down anything you noticed which was interesting. Once back home, pen this log and sit down with a field guide to confirm the bird’s species. Don’t forget to note the location, date, time of day when you saw the bird.
Last but not the least is not a tip – but an advice. Do not miss the fun. Birding is a lot of fun. Getting interested in nature and birds has helped me to understand more about the natural world around me. It has taught me over time how the changes of the seasons affect nature and wildlife around us and how our behaviour and life style impacts the ecology.
Have fun birding – Enjoy!