This resource was created by Abigail Schmid and Joanne Vogel.
The end of April and the beginning of May is the peak time for bird migration. Birds that flew south to warmer places like Florida and Central America are returning to their summer nesting grounds. Amazing birds like phoebes, wood thrushes, and yellow warblers will be passing through or moving into an open area near you. Right now is the perfect time to take up bird watching and you don’t need much equipment to get started.
A pair of binoculars is ideal, but even if you don’t have those, just getting up early and going outside to listen and observe the birds around you is enough. A decent identification guide to birds is also very useful. We created a guide to common birds in our area and it’s great for beginners. The guide is included below.
There are many other bird resources are at your fingertips, on your computer, or your phone. A wonderful online place to visit for everything bird-related is the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. The Lab of Ornithology also maintains a free mobile app called Merlin, a tool for your smartphone to help you search for birds, listen to bird calls and songs and, to predict which birds you may encounter based on your location and date.
For those who want some more expert assistance, The Lab has a YouTube series called Inside Birding that can be a tremendous help in getting started. The series covers the following topics:
- How to focus your binoculars
- Inside Birding: Size and Shape
- Inside Birding: Color Pattern
- Inside Birding: Behavior
- Inside Birding: Habitat
Each video is about 10 minutes long, so if you spend about an hour with these training materials you will be ready to get out and get birding. Set your alarm for sunrise, grab your binoculars, your ID guide, and cell phone and go outside to see that early bird catching the worm. You won’t regret it!