Summary: Trying to identify birds is a great sport that requires very little equipment and a little patience. Bird identification, also known as birding, has gained in popularity throughout the world.
A big part of birding is being able to identify the many different species of the birds you see. Being equipped to identify birds by sight, sound and behaviors can be very easy to achieve by starting out with some simple equipment.
First you must identify a good habitat in which to observe birds. Without that, all the fancy equipment and birding tools in the world will not help you to observe birds. A simple backyard feeder, a bird sanctuary or a park wildlife area are all places to observe birds in your area. Once you have decided where you will do most of your bird watching, obtaining the equipment you need to help you do the identifying should be next.
A good bird book that has color pictures of birds (both male and female) is a good tool to start learning about the identification process. Before buying your own, investigate different books at the library to help start your hobby of watching birds. Once you find a good book, you will want to invest in your own copy so that you can make notes about your bird sightings and observations. Books that have been made specifically for your region are fun, because chances are that you will see all of the birds at some point that are included.
Learn to identify the different bird families and their habitat and practice locating them in your book. For instance, you may be able to identify a bird as being a woodpecker or a hummingbird and then use your book to identify which kind. An expert bird identifier can identify a bird by looking at just the head, by looking at the beak length and color, the eye markings, the crown of the head and throat coloring.
Most birds can be observed at a close enough distance to be able to identify them correctly. But when it comes to close species, a pair of binoculars will help to see the details that differentiate the birds. Being able to see the plumage markings, beak coloring and tail formation are such details that can be more easily identified when using a pair of binoculars and a bird book.
In addition to books, parks or a bird sanctuary may offer special bird watching walks lead by expert bird identifiers. These experts can help point out habitats and behaviors of the different species, along with having the opportunity to help you identify bird calls and songs.
If you are identifying birds on your own, bird calls and songs can be purchased of recordings or listen to bird call recordings on-line. By listening closely you can identify the birds in your area without a sighting of the bird. Sometimes birds can be made to respond to the recordings of their species' song or call. This will help you locate that particular bird species if it is present.
It's exciting to get a bird to respond back to the call and then be able to observe its behaviors. Birds can be identified by flight patterns or flight dance and even by the behaviors in which they build their nest. Remember, birds are migratory animals; which means, that at different times of the year you may be able to identify birds that you don't see all year long in your area. Also, don't forget to identify birds that are not found at your back yard feeders, but along lake areas or wet lands and also grass lands.
Bird watching is a hobby for all ages that can cost nothing to listen and observe. Learning to identify the many different species of birds, takes little effort, with great rewards for those that give it a try. It can be done in any part of the world!