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Birdwatching

as a hobby

I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.

Lynn Thomson

Birdwatching, or birding, is a hobby that involves observing and identifying birds in their natural habitats. It can be a rewarding and relaxing way to connect with nature, learn new things, and meet new people. To start birdwatching, all you need is a pair of binoculars, a field guide or an app, and a curiosity for birds. You can watch birds anywhere and anytime, and discover the beauty and diversity of birdlife.

Helpful content to start birdwatching as a hobby

We aim to provide accurate information, but errors might be found. Always exercise judgment and discretion.

Videos

Short visual inspiration.

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YouTube | Birdwatching for Beginners with Barbara Hannah Grufferman
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YouTube | Nature Dates: Jack Fincham Takes Chris Packham Birdwatching | FULL EPISODE | BBC Earth
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YouTube | Things ALL Beginner Birders Should Do
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YouTube | Introduction to Birding | Birding 101 with Sheridan Alford

Podcasts

Play an episode while exploring the page.

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Spotify | Start Birding with these Five Steps
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Spotify | #1 The Blackbird
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Spotify | Series 1: Episode 1 – Chris Packham, Jason Singh
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Spotify | S1 EP. 1 | Neither a Magpie nor a Lark! | STEWART MONCKTON
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Spotify | Talkin' Birds
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Spotify | BirdNote Daily
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Spotify | Out There With the Birds

Birdwatching can be done anywhere and anytime. Birds are everywhere, from urban parks to remote forests. You don’t need expensive equipment or travel far to enjoy birdwatching. You can start from your backyard or balcony, or visit local hotspots or nature reserves. You can also watch birds in different seasons and times of the day, and see how they change.

Terms

Basic lingo for orientation.

  • Birding: The act of observing or identifying birds in their natural habitats.
  • Lifer: A bird species that a birder sees for the first time in their life.
  • Twitching: The pursuit of rare or vagrant birds that are not usually seen in a certain area.
  • Big Year: A personal challenge to see as many bird species as possible within a calendar year and a defined geographic area.
  • Patch: A local area that a birder regularly visits to watch birds.
  • Dip: To miss seeing a bird that was reported or expected to be seen.
  • Mega: A very rare or exceptional bird sighting.

How to start birdwatching as a hobby

First moves for getting acquainted and breaking the ice.

Books

Get read(y).

Birdwatching can help you learn more about your natural environment. Birdwatching can give you a reason to explore the world and discover new places and species. You can also learn about bird ecology, behavior, and conservation issues. Birdwatching can also inspire you to take action to protect birds and their habitats.

How-tos

Step-by-step tutorials.

Articles

Further reading.

Websites

Go-tos for information.

More than simple pleasure and ticking a species off a list, it’s a hobby that dwells on the joy of being alive.

Georgia Angus

Movies

Nothing like a film for inspiration.

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YouTube | Extraordinary Birder
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YouTube | Birders: The Central Park Effect – Official Trailer
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YouTube | WINGED MIGRATION – Extended Preview – Now on Digital

FAQS

Get a clue.

Can I use a bird feeder if I don’t have a garden?

Yes, you can use a window feeder or a wall-mounted feeder. Another option is asking permission to place a bird feeder with a camera in a communal area.

How can I attract more birds to my backyard or balcony?

You can attract more birds to your backyard or balcony by providing them with food, water, shelter, and nesting sites. You can use feeders, birdbaths, plants, nest boxes, and other features to create a bird-friendly habitat.

Apps

Smart assistance.

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YouTube | What’s that Bird? Merlin Bird ID Can Tell You
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YouTube | Birda Birdwatching App – Start amplifying your birding experience

Products

Essentials to have.

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YouTube | Nikon School: Using the PROSTAFF P3
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YouTube | The Original Window Bird Feeder
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YouTube | Bird Buddy Crowdfunding Launch – Smart Hummingbird Feeder & Smart Bird Bath

Courses

Get smart.

Near You

Get together.

Birds will give you a window, if you allow them. They will show you secrets from another world– fresh vision that, though it is avian, can accompany you home and alter your life. They will do this for you even if you don’t know their names– though such knowing is a thoughtful gesture. They will do this for you if you watch them.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Newsletters

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Tips

Additional advice for beginners.

  • Get a good pair of binoculars and a field guide to help you identify the birds you see.
  • Start with common and familiar birds in your backyard, park, or neighborhood, and gradually expand your range and diversity of habitats.
  • Be respectful of the birds and their environment. Follow the birdwatcher’s code of conduct and avoid disturbing or harming the birds or their habitats.