Hobbies > Birdwatching

Birdwatching: A Wonderous Journey

Retirement marks a time to embrace new passions, and one rewarding pursuit is the never-ending joy of birdwatching. Birding not only connects you with the serenity of nature but also promises many thrilling moments of awe and discovery of the vast diversity and beauty of the birding kingdom, also known as Aves. With over 10,000 species of birds in the world, and the most diverse group of vertebrates you will never get bored with this delightful pastime. To inspire you and help you get started with birdwatching, we've compiled a few basic essentials you might wish to consider so you can have the best birdwatching experience.

Birding Field Guides: Identify Your Feathered Friends

One excellent way to deepen your understanding of the avian world is through a comprehensive field guide to birds. These are designed to aid in easy bird identification and make your birdwatching experience even more rewarding. You can find field guides for your region and use them to help you distinguish between the myriad of species and discover the varities of birds in your area. Many species have very similar markings so having a field guide can come in very handy and help you the characteristics that distinguish each type such as shape of beak, coloring and types of tail feathers.

Here are some field guides that make excellent reference material that you can purchase directly from Amazon.com:
  • National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
    Immerse yourself in detailed illustrations and user-friendly content, turning every observation into a learning opportunity. This popular guide is packed with information about North American birds, including range maps, detailed descriptions, and helpful identification tips.
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds (North America, Eastern North America, Western North America) by David Sibley. This comprehensive guide is known for its lifelike illustrations and detailed descriptions of North American birds. It is a great choice for both beginners and experienced birdwatchers.
  • Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson and Virginia Peterson. This classic guide has been in print for over 80 years and is still a popular choice among birdwatchers. It is a great choice for beginners who want a reliable and affordable guide.

Field Guide Apps

In addition to be the proud owner of a beautifully illustrated birding book that you can enjoy reading in-depth information, you can also enjoy the convenience of having a field guide app on your mobile device, to quickly check a species while you are hiking. Visit one of the app stores to downlownd the free Audubon Field Guide app. For Android devices, download it from the Google play store, or if you have an ios device or iPhone, get it from the Apple App store.

Start your Birding Checkist

Discover the thrill of spotting rare and sought-after species and track the ones you've seen or hope to see by keeping a birding checklist. Serious birders like to keep track of the birds that they have seen and the top ones they hope to see in the wild. You can start your own list by writing down the names of the one's you commonly see in your area and add to that others that you want to see with the help of a birder's field guide for your region.

Join a Birding Club

Another great way to expand your avian knowledge is to join a birdwatching club, which not only connects you with fellow enthusiasts and experts, but also opens the door to a wealth of shared experiences. The Audubon Society is a highly respected non-profit organization that devotes funds to preserve bird habitat as well as provides a community that fosters camaraderie and provides numerous avenues for enhancing your birdwatching journey. They offer a supportive community that organizes birdwatching walks, educational programs, and social events. They have chapters in many areas, so check out the Audubon Society web site to find one near and consider signing up for their membership program and help support our feathered friends.

Best Birding Binoculars

To get the best view of your feathered friends, its a good idea to invest in a quality set of binoculars. Birdwatching experts recommend using binoculars with a balance of magnification and clarity, such as ones with 8 x 42 range.

For an exceptional viewing experience, here's a few good binocular options to consider purchashing directly from Amazon.com:
  • Vortex Optics Viper HD 8x42 Binoculars: While a a little more expensive than other options, these binoculars are a favorite among seasoned birdwatchers and are renowned for their exceptional clarity and ease of use.
  • Nikon Prostaff 3S 8x42 Binoculars: are a reliable and more affordable choice without compromising on performance.

Book a Bird Expedition Trip

If you want to take your birdwatching to next level, consider planning a trip to a birder's paradise that is well known for its biodiversity. Why not look into booking an excursion to one an exotic destinations known for rare and majestic species? This is a great way to combine your love of birdwatching with an exciting travel adventure. Consider these and other exceptional locations known for their diverse habitat that supports an abudance of wildlife and beautiful scenery for a truly unforgettable experience.
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Encounter the iconic blue-footed booby and other unique species in a stunning, untouched habitat.
  • Madagascar: Immerse yourself in the vibrant diversity of lemurs and exotic birdlife found nowhere else on earth.
  • Papua New Guinea: Witness the mesmerizing courtship rituals of the Birds of Paradise, a sight to behold.
  • Costa Rica: Explore rich biodiversity, home to the resplendent quetzal and an array of colorful toucans.

Encourage Birds to Visit with a Bird Feeder

A great way to see a nice variety of birds in your own backyard is to add different types of bird feeders to your garden. There are many styles to choose from that will attract specific species of birds. By varying the types of seed offered at each feeder you'll be sure to see a nice variety of your feathered friends stop by. Also consider adding a bird bath or fountain for them to drink water from and wash themselves. Here's a few types to consider adding to your garden.
  • Tube feeders: Tube feeders are a great option for feeding a variety of birds, including finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, and they are relatively easy to clean and maintain.
  • Platform feeders: Platform feeders are a good choice for feeding larger birds, such as cardinals, woodpeckers, and doves. They provide a large surface area for birds to land and eat, and they are easy to fill and clean.
  • Hopper feeders: Hopper feeders are a good option for feeding a variety of birds, including finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. They have a large hopper that holds a lot of seed, and they are easy to fill and clean.
  • Nectar feeders: Nectar feeders are a must-have for attracting hummingbirds. They are filled with a sugar-water solution, and they have small feeding ports that are perfectly sized for hummingbirds.
  • Suet feeders: Suet feeders are a great option for attracting woodpeckers and other birds that eat suet. They are usually made of wire mesh, and they have a small opening that allows birds to access the suet.
Birdwatching is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, discover the awesome diversity of birds and meet others with the same passion. It's a fun, easy to get started hobby and with some good binoculars, a field guide and willingness to explore, you'll develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the amazing diversity and beauty of the natural world.

Man birdwatching Photo by Daly Selva Lira / Pexels

Male Painted Bunting Male Eastern Painted Bunting, Bahamas
Photo by David McGowen

Quetzal Male Resplendent Quetzal, Mexico
Photo by phototrip.cz / Adobe Stock

Black-capped Lory Black-capped Lory, Australia
Photo by David Clode / Unsplash
Back to Top