One of the easiest ways to enjoy the great outdoors is by observing animals in their natural environment. Not only is it entertaining to see some of their strange behaviors, but it brings us into the present moment, helping us to take a little breather and relax.

Between woods, fields, mountains and rivers, there’s a lot of wildlife to discover — most of which require a bit of adventure and a stroke of luck. However, there’s one animal which seems to go wherever it wishes.

With over 11,000 species, there are at least a few kinds of birds to discover in just about every habitat imaginable. This diversity is just one of the reasons birding is so popular among an equally diverse fanbase. Though many may think of birdwatchers as a slightly older crowd, there are around 9 million Americans between the ages of 18-35 who are flocking to this hobby. Want to join the fun? Let’s go over the essentials.

The Essentials

Unlike most hobbies that require expensive gear and fancy equipment, birding is simple.

The most useful piece of equipment you’ll want to get is a pair of binoculars. The magnification allows you to get a close look to help identify a bird without scaring it.

Select a pair that has seven- or eight- times magnification. These strengths will give you a close view but also keep your field of view wide, which makes following moving birds a lot easier.

Next up is a field guide. Although there are field guide apps, nothing beats having a physical guidebook. Peterson and National Geographic are both favorites among birders — just be sure to get one specified to your region. Take some time to study it in between outings to get familiar with various species so you can identify them faster the next time you’re out.

A pen and nice notebook are also handy to have to write down any notes and, of course, to keep track of all the types of birds you see.

Good walking shoes are about the only requirement in terms of special clothing. You’ll just want to dress for the weather and location where you’re headed.

Put everything into a bookbag, and you’ll be all set!

Here are Some Birds to Keep an Eye Out for Around the Country!

Northern Flicker

Throughout the U.S.

You may have luck looking at ground level for one of these as they love digging for ants and beetles.

Western Bluebird

Californian Coast, New Mexico and Arizona

Weighing in at just an ounce, this tiny bird only needs around 15 kilocalories a day.

Greater Road Runner


Poisonous prey are their favorite treats, including venomous lizards, scorpions and even rattlesnakes.

Cedar Waxwing

Upper Northern U.S.

The tips of their tails are normally yellow; however, the fruit of a non-native honeysuckle can turn the tip orange.

Tufted Titmice

Eastern U.S.

These birds are famous for their peter-peter-peter song, which you’ll likely hear long before finding them.


Western U.S.

A flight of swallows can range from as small as 10 birds to over 100.

Wood Stork

Wetland preserves or wildlife areas along the coast in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia

At three feet tall, this bird is hard to miss. The oldest on record was 20 years and two months old!

Tips for Birdwatching

Now that you have what you need, let’s go over some helpful tips for a successful birding adventure!

The early bird catches the worm is a good hint at when you’ll have the most luck birding. Most bird watchers will plan their day so they’re at location by dawn, when birds are most active. Though you can head out a little later, don’t wait too long as things quiet down by noon.

Since birds are easily startled by loud noises, it’s important to stay quiet as you look for them. Once you spot one, try to stay as still as possible if they’re close to you. It may be tempting to quickly grab your guide or binoculars, but you’ll have better chances of the bird sticking around if you move slowly.

If you can’t identify a bird in the moment, write down a description, being as detailed as possible, and mention if it looks like another species. However, bird calls are one of the best ways to identify a bird. It may take a while to learn the common ones in your area, but if you’re able to record the call of a bird you’re unsure of, a local birder would probably be more than happy to identify it for you.

Get involved with the local birding community. Almost every town and city will have a birding club, even if it’s online. Connecting with other birders is a great way to learn, and it’s a great place to share your excitement about a new bird you saw. You’ll find that birders love to share information and will give you the inside scoop on the best spots to look for different birds in your area.

The Life List

While it would be difficult to keep track of a bird every time you see one, it is very common for birders to keep a life list. Each time they see a new bird and properly identify it (without any doubt whatsoever), they add it to their life list. There are several different ways to organize your list, but if you’re just getting started it’s probably easiest to just go in the order you see them!
You’ll also want to include the date and location. A few years from now, you’ll be amazed at how long your list has grown!

Whether you’re a city dweller, suburbanite or country lover, with a good guidebook and some binoculars, anyone can become a birder!

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