I’ve been backyard birding for a long time now. And I feel like there’s quite an interest in it lately. I mean, what else are we to do while we’re stuck at home, right?!
So I decided to share with you some of my tips, tricks for a great backyard birding experience, and photos of some of the birds I’ve seen.
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There are many ways to enjoy the birds in your area.
1) You can simply watch them from the comfort of your chair
2) You can attract them to your yard with a few essentials
3) You can identify the birds you’ve seen
4) And, you can become a bird photographer
The level that you work at is up to you. And no matter how you interact with nature, it’s wonderful!
Backyard Birding from the comfort of your chair
First, and easiest, is to simply watch the birds that fly near you. And, well, that doesn’t take any set up or any work.
You can still enjoy sipping your refreshing drink while working at this level.
I find that sitting still is really the key here. Find a comfy spot. And sit and watch. Quietly. Simply.
I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to sit. I’m almost always going and doing something. But, try it. If you do, you’ll most likely be rewarded with some cool birds.
Don’t think you have cool birds in your backyard?
Oh, you do! Almost everyone has crows. And they are cool! Funny. Always up to something. And they are beautiful birds.
You have sparrows, pigeons, doves, and I bet you have many more if you stop to watch them!
I’ve seen some amazing birds just because I sat and watched them.
Attract birds to your yard
If you create an environment that birds want to be in they will come to your yard.
It can be as simple as adding a bird feeder or two to your yard.
First, you’ll want to decide what kinds of birds you want to attract. Hummingbirds will want a hummingbird feeder. There are bird feeders to share seeds with the songbirds. Or maybe you want to attract crows with peanuts. You get the idea.
If you’re going to feed the birds, please keep the food out year round.
While some birds migrate, there are still species that stick around. Some birds become reliant on their regular food sources and favorite yards.
Change the type of food you provide seasonally, but never put away the feeders for the winter. Changing the types of foods you provide will also help attract different types of birds to your yard. Some birds like seed, some like fruit, or sugar water.
I like to look up what types of birds I see, then put out that kind of food to attract more of them to my yard.
Provide a source of water along with your feeder and the birds will stay and hang out for a long time.
Don’t forget, bird feeders need to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning feeders helps prevent bacteria that can be harmful to birds. Clean feeders with hot soapy water or a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water to get rid of bacteria, fungi, and mold.
Be sure to change the food in your feeder often as well. Birds will also sometimes avoid feeders that are dirty, so keep things clean to attract those little winged friends.
Birds also love shelter. Trees, shrubs, trimmed branches, and birdhouses all provide a good space to hide out. This can help them feel protected from predators and provide an area to rest. Make sure trees and taller shrubbery aren’t too close to feeders because this can give bigger critters easy access to jump onto feeders and scare away birds.
You can create perches or shelter on the feeder itself by attaching trimmed branches from trees to your feeders. This simple addition provides birds with protective cover, which is great for attracting birds to feeders.
Another way to help birds feel safe in your backyard is by keeping a little distance between the feeders and your home.
Keep feeders from being too close to windows and the sides of a house so that the birdies don’t fly into your windows. And, you can do this cute little craft to let birds know that there’s a window nearby.
Identify the birds
Not only do I love to watch and listen to the birds, but I like learning about the birds I see.
My favorite way to identify birds is to use the Merlin bird ID app It will help you identify the birds you see, for 6,000+ birds for North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. And, it’s free!
You can either upload a photo to the app, or you can answer a few questions to get to a list of possible birds. It’s very easy to use and very helpful.
Once I ID the bird, I like to read more about it – what kind of food it likes, what kinds of fun facts are related to that bird, maybe learning about it’s history or it’s likes and dislikes.
Oh, and if you like to identify plants, I love the app Pl@ntNet. Pl@ntNet is a citizen science project available as an app that helps you identify plants thanks to your pictures. This project is part of the Floris’Tic initiative
This website from Oregon State University will help you identify butterflies. I also find Butterflies and Moths of North America to be a helpful site.
Photo the birds
This is probably the most active and most expensive way to enjoy the birds in your backyard.
And, like most things, you can set your own budget – either lots of money, or just a little.
You’ll want a (affliate link) good camera. Unfortunately, the camera in your phone probably won’t get you the best shots of birds. So, you’ll want to get a good camera.
Maybe you already have a (affiliate link) nice camera. Yippie! But, if you need to buy one, take a look at this list of good birding cameras. Going into different cameras and lenses is a bit beyond what I want to discuss here. But, know that you can spend as much as you want here.
Once you get your camera and lens, set up your backyard for success.
Make sure to create a perch, even one made out of old branches is a great start, or a place for the birds to stop and enjoy the food you’ve put out so that you can snap a picture of them while they stop.
Set yourself up with a comfy spot, like a nice deck chair to sit and watch the birds. Oh, and hopefully it’s in the shade with a cool refreshing drink.
Then, snap away. And be sure to share your cool bird pictures with us on Instagram by tagging @lifeCurrents or share them on our Facebook page.