Birding Tips


Here’s a way to improve your birding skills:   Like anything, putting in the time will improve your birding skills.

Bird in view or in your field guide:

Watch a bird as long as you can; note the appearance and behavior. What is it doing? What size is it? What shape is it?

What color? What are its prominent marks? Does it have wing bars, an eye line, a long tail? Resist the temptation to check the field guide when you can be observing the bird. The bird will eventually fly away, but the bird’s picture will remain in the field guide.

Dress for birding success:

Bright clothing worn when out birding can frighten away the birds. Please avoid bright white clothing. In nature, white is a color that indicates danger to wildlife. Think of a deer lifting it’s white tail when alarmed. Out in the field, it is better to wear older clothes that have been washed many times. Besides, they’re a lot more comfortable.

Field Guides are organized for a reason:

Why do water birds come first? It is not an arbitrary decision. The answer is taxonomy. Most field guides use the same sequence that is used by scientists, which reflects what scientists think is the evolutionary relationship of birds. Please be wary of field guides that choose a different system of organizing the birds such as by color, size or habitat. The scientists’ system will prove easier to use in the long run.



Are you ready to head into the field and see dozens of new species? Knowledge and enthusiasm shouldn’t get in the way of basic birding etiquette.

o Tread lightly in the field and be respectful.

o Be on prompt so the group can head out together as one unit.

o Birds’ keen senses alert them to our presence; when the group walks as quietly as possible and whispers, we see more birds. Take cues from the leader who might signal for quiet as the group approaches a bird. Walking quietly will help us listen for birds.

o While birding in a group, we enjoy sharing the findings. If you’re new to birding, please don’t be shy; there’s a knowledgeable leader willing to share tips and sightings.

o And most important, enjoy yourself! Don’t be too concerned about finding a rarity or spotting more species than last outing. Birding is meant to be fun and informative.



This information is courtesy of Sue McGrath, founder of Newburyport (MA) Birders

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