August 15, 2020
Bird Watching Tips for Beginners for a Memorable Experience

Bird watching isn’t just about looking at birds. This serene activity also gives you time to connect with nature, unplug from the stress of everyday life, and relax. But before you go bird watching for the first time, there are a few things you need to know.

We have put together some tips that will make your first bird watching experience a memorable one. Consider these bird watching rules for the beginners and you’ll do fine.

So, let’s get started!

1. Learn to Imitate a Bird Call

It may come as a surprise, but imitating a bird call does work – it is used by some of the best bird enthusiasts in the world. Sometimes you might do everything right but still not come across any birds (or the right ones) in a day. At times like this, you can imitate a bird call – the most common way to do this is to make squeaky noises by kissing the back of your hands. Another trick is to whisper the word ‘pish’ through clenched teeth. The sound will be heard by small curious birds who’ll come at once attracted by the sound.

Mastering the bird call, however, is not an easy task. Some can do it effortlessly while others might struggle or might never be able to do it. As a beginner, learning some of these bird watching skills can be helpful and can make bird watching an easier experience.

2. Pick the Right Spot

The first step to bird watching is getting out of the house and picking the right spot. But don’t spend too much time thinking about where to go, you should be able to see a variety of birds close to your house, although it will probably be a more worthwhile experience to visit a park, beach, countryside or further afield, going on safari.

One essential thing to remember when you pick a spot is to have the sun behind you so you can identify birds more easily when you spot them. When a bird is between your eyesight (binoculars) and the sun, sometimes all you’ll be able to spot is a silhouette, which will not help you determine the bird species.

3. Remember, Silence is the Key!

Once you pick the right spot, be silent. Turn off your mobile devices or any alarms you have set. Keep quiet, you might want to scream at the top of your voice that you’ve seen one of the rarest birds, but that will only cut short your bird sighting. Birds have an acute sense of hearing and even a slight movement will make them aware of your presence. Thus, if you want to observe them, maintain a respectful silence.

4. Learn About the Birds and Their Habitats

Some birds prefer wetlands, others prefer desert, while some prefer to take to the winds over the sea or are found only in evergreen forest areas. We will share some examples so you can understand how it is an important endeavour to learn about the habitat of birds. If you expect a wood sandpiper to show up in a desert, you’ll be waiting for a long time – wood sandpipers prefer wetlands, the exact opposite of a desert!

✔  Habitat: Sea Shore

Avocet, razorbill, great cormorant, northern gannet, puffin, masked booby, brown pelican, emperor penguin.

✔  Habitat: Forests

Hornbills, fruit doves, owls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, songbirds, cuckoos, redwing, turkey vulture.

✔  Habitat: Wetland

Grey heron, swans, geese, dunlin, grey plover, cattle egret, wood sandpiper, glossy ibis, Eurasian teal, sanderling.

✔  Habitat: Plains such as desserts, grasslands or prairie

Parakeets, rhea, ostriches, roadrunner, golden eagle, falcon, mottled duck, gull-billed tern, black skimmer, stilt sandpiper.

5. Buy Some Bird Watching Gadgets

You don’t technically need any equipment to start bird watching. However, buying a pair of binoculars can make the experience a lot easier and more enjoyable. You can easily find a good pair of binoculars without breaking the bank. You might have to shell out a couple of hundred dollars to purchase a decent lightweight and waterproof binocular with a lifetime warranty, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

Other than that, it’s also a good idea to bring along a notebook and a few pencils or pens to record what types of birds you see. As you get more experienced, you may want to upgrade your equipment. As a beginner, though, a pair of binoculars, some paper and a pencil should be all you need.

6. Invest in Bird Watching Guides and Apps

When it comes to bird watching, it is essential to have all the tools required to make it easier. You might start seeing birds you have never noticed before, and while you can try to search them by their descriptions on Google, it doesn’t always work. These are the times when a handy field guide can tell you which bird you have spotted. These guides also come with clear and high definition pictures.

Bird Guide Resources

Apart from this, you can also use bird watching apps. They are much quicker to surf through and highly portable. But, do keep in mind to put your device on silent for a great experience.

Bird App Resources

7. Record What You See

Every time you spot a new bird, take some time to record what you see. Describe what the bird looks like, such as the colours, the size, and other details. If you can draw, make a quick sketch. You can even take a picture of the bird if you have a camera. Also, write down the answers to a few basic questions, including:

  • Where did you see it?
  • What was it doing?
  • What was it eating?
  • Was it alone?
  • What did it sound like?

Taking these notes will help you identify the bird so you can learn more about its characteristics.

8. Go With Someone Who Has Experience

If you haven’t gone bird watching before, it’s a good idea to go with a friend who already has some bird watching experience. They will be able to give you some tricks of the trade and you’ll learn a lot faster. Going with a friend can also make bird watching more enjoyable.

How to Go Bird Watching for the First Time?

You don’t need any special equipment or location to start birdwatching. All you need to do is step outside and look at the sky. But if you want to make your first bird watching experience more exciting, grab a notebook, binoculars, and take note of the tips mentioned in this comprehensive bird watching guide.

Want to get out there and watch some amazing birds in an incredible location? Check out some of our safari tour options!


About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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