How to find a bird?

The amazing thing about birdwatching is that it can take place anytime and anywhere. However, here are a few tips that can make birdwatching easier.

When and where?

  • The best time of the day to go birding is early in the morning and late afternoon/late evening. You can hear birds calling more often, and they are also more active.
  • Avoid going birdwatching on windy days. It’s more difficult to hear their sounds due to the wind, and they are also less active.
  • Avoid going birdwatching on hot days. Birds are less active when it’s very hot. On such days, you can go birding either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when it’s cooler, and birds are more active.
  • Nighttime is a great opportunity to see and identify nocturnal species, such as owls.
  • Avoid going birdwatching next to a busy road, as the traffic noise makes it more difficult to hear birds calling.
  • Birds are more easily identified in open areas compared to heavily wooded ones. However, cryptic species can easily be missed also in open areas. In all habitats, you have to take your time to find a bird.

How to find different birds

  • Listen for birds calling. It is as helpful as seeing a bird.
  • Don’t record only the obvious species, as there are also many less obvious ones.
  • Listen for noises except for bird calls. For instance, Crested Shrike-tits can be identified by the sound of them tearing at the bark with their stout beaks, while parrots quietly feeding in the treetops are usually identified by the sound of seed pods falling to the ground.
  • Habitat is also important for the identification of a species. For instance, a thin-billed brown bird on the ground in a deep forest might be a thrust, while in an open field might be a pipit. In some cases, birds might be present in ‘wrong’ places during migration season. Some tips for finding birds in different habitats are the following:

In an open forest or woodland:

  • Search the ground.
  • Check the shrubs.
  • Check the trunks of large trees, as well as the lower branches.
  • Search in the canopy of the trees.
  • Check the airspace above for aerial species, such as raptors.

In a wetland:

  • Search the nearest edges.
  • Check the marginal vegetation.
  • Search in the open water.
  • Check the tops of trees for nesting birds.

On a beach:

  • Check the water’s edge.
  • Check any rocky areas.
  • Scan the upper beach and any marginal vegetation.
  • Scan areas of open beach.

Encounter rates of birds in different environments

  • Many factors determine the encounter rates of birds in a certain area, such as the habitat, season, and food availability.
  • Birds are attracted to resources such as food, water, and shelter. Therefore, we should go birding in areas that include some of these elements.
  • Different birds eat different foods. Therefore, in areas with certain food resources, we can see the species that eat these foods. For example, in a city, people often feed birds in a park. Park is a great spot for birding.
  • We can see many, different birds near water sources, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Some birds can be found drinking from, and bathing in, shallow waters, while others not. Birds love vegetation (bushes and thick trees), as there they can find food, shelter, and protection from predators. In areas with water, there is usually abundant vegetation that provides many birds with food and shelter. Many birds hide in and amongst the plants at the water’s edge.
  • Birds live in all kinds of habitats. For this reason, visiting different places such as forests, farms, lakes, oceans, etc. allows us to see a wider variety of birds.
  • Birds prefer not to be disturbed by humans. Although certain species can tolerate human activity, such as the widespread American Robin, many others don’t. For this reason, we will possibly observe a wider variety of bird species in more ‘natural’ environments with as little human disturbance as possible.