It’s always best to prepare for the retirement stage early by knowing what you want to do. Bird watching has become a popular option for senior citizens because of its relaxing nature. If you are looking to take up a birding hobby, you might want to take some notes on how to get started.
The three most important steps to start bird watching are obtaining relevant information, gathering the best equipment, and getting out of the house to start watching them in their natural environment. Sticking with a hobby in birding can bring you amazing experiences.
In this article, you will find a step by step guide on how to start bird watching in your later years. We will discuss how to read up on different birds, what equipment will be best to watch them, and other fun ways to best experience this hobby.
Read Up Everything Bird Related
The first step to getting started on your bird watching hobby is to learn everything there is to know about what you are getting into. There are many different resources for gathering relevant information, and we will go into some of the best ways below.
Get a Field Guide
Field guides are best used for studying all types of bird species. Typically they include images and species information (such as coloring, nesting, unique features, mating, and much more). A list of popular guides include:
- Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman
- The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley
- The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian Stokes
Download Some New Apps
Apps are a great way to learn more about bird watching while on the go. You can even take the app with you while bird watching to get a more accurate description. They are easy, convenient, and fit right in your pocket! Some popular apps include:
- National Geographic Bird
- The Sibley eGuide to Birds
- Audubon Bird Guide: North America
- BirdLog: North America
Listen to a Podcast
Podcasts have become extremely popular, making it so much easier to find some on all things bird! You can find news, entertainment, and just about any talk about all birds. Here is a list of some popular podcasts that you can find to learn more and stay connected to the birding community:
- American Birding Podcast
- Laura Erikson’s For the Birds Podcast
- This Birding Life
- Ray Browns’ Talkin’ Birds
Subscribe to a Magazine
If you aren’t a techy type or prefer reading material to apps, then magazines are your best bet! You can subscribe to many different magazines to learn about bird watching and all other bird-related things. Below are some of the most popular magazines for bird watching:
Surf the Web
You can find practically everything on the internet. So, what better way to start bird watching than to learn more about the hobby online? It makes for fast, easy consumption; whether it’s just a quick Google search or checking out the latest blog posts on some great websites, the internet has it all! Check out some of the best websites below for bird watching:
Gather the Right Equipment to Use
The next step is to invest in some equipment for your new bird watching hobby. After the initial investment, birding is very budget-friendly. There are only a few recommended things to get you started:
- Bird Guide
Of course, these are highly recommended options to get the most out of your new bird watching hobby. You can make other investments, such as getting bird feeders and houses, food, or other related items to have them come straight to you. However, if you are more of an adventurous bird watcher, the other equipment is just enough!
Picking the right binoculars can be hard because they come in different shapes, sizes, and styles. When you are looking into binoculars, you will want to pick the right magnification for you. To best understand the specific numbers associated with the magnification, you will want to keep in mind that the first number is the magnification. The second number is the size of the objective lens.
If you are looking for some great binocular options, we have listed a few below:
Note: Objective lenses larger than 42mm are heavier and brighter, while those that are less than 30mm are lighter weight but not as bright.
Technology has come to play a critical role in bird watching, making the most of the experience. Cameras can be a wonderful way to capture your favorite birds, whether it be while you are out birding or even at your own home. To choose the right camera, you will want to consider the body and the lens options as they vary greatly. Below, we have listed a few of the most commonly recommended cameras for bird watching.
Note: We don’t recommend using your camera’s flash since it can be harmful to the birds.
Bird Field Guide
Earlier, we discussed some of the most popular field guides for bird watching. There are many options available in the birding community. You can find some arranged by color (this is the most suggested for beginners), shape, or taxonomically. To find the right one for you might depend on your skill levels and experience. However, no matter which field guide you choose, you will find the information you need to make the most of your bird watching experience.
Get Yourself Out There
Now that you have started learning about the birds in your area and have some awesome equipment, it’s time to get outside and start bird watching! We know it can be a little overwhelming your first time, so we recommend starting slow. Perhaps you can start by looking for one bird at a time.
Some tips that advanced bird watchers have for beginners are the following:
- The best time for bird watching is at dawn or dusk if you are looking for more familiar daytime birds. You will also find more nocturnal birds at night (like owls).
- Birds migrate! You will have some familiar birds stay year-round, but you are sure to find new birds in the winter or summer.
- You want to make sure you are quiet and don’t wear too bright of colors. You don’t want to scare the birds away!
- Keep a logbook or notes for recording species you have seen, understanding migration patterns, and keeping track of common movements or qualities.
- Avoid disturbing nesting birds.
- Keep contact information for your local wildlife rehabilitators just in case!
If you would prefer to be surrounded by a community of other bird watchers, this is the perfect time for you to join a bird-watching club or keep in touch with local listservs and other newsletters. You can even find local wildlife refuge areas near you to connect with other individuals. There are many resources available for you!
We created this guide to help you get started in the right direction to make bird watching your new hobby in your later years. This is such a great hobby to get into once you know where to start. The three most important steps include:
- Start by learning more about the different types of birds and other relevant information.
- Consider getting useful equipment.
- Put yourself out in the field to get started.