Bird watching tips

Little girl looking through binoculars in the woods
Get your binoculars ready and go bird watching (Photo: iStock.com/Maica)

During the spring and summer months, there are so many birds out and about. They’re looking for nesting materials, foraging for food for their chicks and singing their little hearts out! And that makes it a great time to go bird watching!

Where to find birds

Look for birds in the woods or countryside, in your local park or nature reserve, or just in your own garden. Attract more feathered friends to your garden by putting food out for them regularly – why not make our brilliant bird feeder and a scrummy feast to go with it? Remember to put out some water in a shallow dish too, so they can have a drink and a bath.

What you’ll need in your bird watching kit

You’ll need some spotter sheets, such as our garden birds ID and wild birds iDial, and a pen and notebook to record what you’ve seen.

Although they’re not strictly necessary, a pair of lightweight children’s binoculars will help you get a better look. Spot a bird with your own eyes first, then use the binoculars to see it close up. Practice using them before you take them bird watching by fixing your gaze on something in the distance and looking at it as you raise the binoculars to your eyes, then turning the knob until it’s in focus. Don’t walk around while looking through binoculars as you’re bound to trip over something!

And don’t forget to pack a picnic!

Shhhh! Don’t scare the birds away

Little boy looking through a hide and watching a duck
Peep through a hide and watch birds (Photo: iStock.com/Imgorthand)

If you’re noisy, or jump up and down with excitement when you spot an interesting bird, they’ll fly off! Try to be calm and still, and speak quietly. And it’s best to wear clothes in natural colours, such as greens and browns, so you blend in. Many nature reserves have hides you can use too. These are specially made buildings or wooden walls with small gaps in them. They're really useful because you can hide behind them and watch birds without disturbing them.

Be patient

Find your spot and get comfy – birds are often nervous and won’t come out if they think there’s a threat. Choose a spot close to bird feeders or trees and get your binoculars ready. You might have to wait a little while, but it’ll be worth it!

Look really carefully

When you see a bird, look for all the different colours in its feathers. What colour is its beak, and its feet? All these little details will help you identify it. Bird behaviour is fascinating too so keep watching to see what they get up to – pecking at food, preening their feathers, squabbling with other birds, or even taking a bath.

Use your ears as well as your eyes

All birds have their own distinctive songs. Have a go at ‘talking’ to a bird by imitating its song. Perhaps you could record it on a phone and then see if you can match it with birdsong samples online.

You might even want to get up at the crack of dawn and experience the wonders of the dawn chorus.

We’d love to hear all about your bird watching adventures and what you’ve spotted, so tell us about it by posting on our Facebook page, or on Instagram or Twitter (what could be more apt?) using #NatureDetectives.

Have you been bird watching?

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