Interested in learning about the birds in your own backyard? Here is everything you need to know about getting started!
What you need
It doesn't take much to make your backyard a place birds will want to visit. Hanging several different birdfeeders, and putting up a bird bath will go a long way to making your yard bird friendly.
Learn what birds live near you
Some birds are around all year, and some birds are only around in the spring or fall. To learn what birds are native to your area, invest in a field guide. You can check out a few different guides from The Sibley Nature Center's library to find the one that's right for you.
They let you see the birds up close, and more importantly details that you can't see from the ground. You don't need to spend a lot on binoculars to have fun birdwatching.
Field guides will help you learn the birds' names and help you better identify them by having pictures in the books. Sibley Nature Center has many field guides for purchase and some for free, visit us today and check out our collection. We also have a non-lending library full of books to help identify birds that aren't in your area.
Many smartphones have apps that are available at a cost to download that help you identify birds by their photos and songs. Some good apps include: Bird Log, Sibley Guide, Audubon Guide, iBirdPro, other good ones are Peterson, National Geographic, Merlin
Websites and Web Cams
Some of the best information can be found on the web include these websites: ebird.org, xenocanto.org, whatbird.com, birds.cornell.edu, texasbirds.org, aba.org, beginners guide to birdwatching
You can also get a lot of good experience watching different bird cameras. These cameras cover feeders and nests for a variety of birds. Hummingbird camera
Know where to look
You might be tempted to stare at your bird feeders. Don't forget to check the trees, along fences and in bushes. We discovered nearly 20 house sparrows we could only hear until we came right underneath the tree they were in.
We do our best identifying by sound rather than sight. That's because we've spent loads of time just listening to the chirps of our backyard birds. The result is that we can spot hummingbirds sight unseen. And out-of-place calls signal us to head outside to see who's around. We've seen a group of crows chase off a wayward hawk and welcomed a solo Western scrub jay.
You can watch indoors too
This is especially helpful for younger kids who may have trouble keeping quiet outside. Hang bird feeders and birdbaths close to windows for better viewing. And have the binoculars handy.
This is the single most important tip for bird watching with kids! Follow your child's lead and enjoy yourself.