Friday, January 3, 2014
Perhaps the new year is a good opportunity for you to start a new hobby -- like amateur ornithology, or bird watching!
A good pair of binoculars and a trusty field guide are the standard items to have to be an effective hobbyist. In the end, though, eyes to see and patience to watch are all you need. Of course, a birdfeeder can be a great way to encourage them to come into better and closer view.
Still, it does help to have resources to learn the names, appearance, range, and sounds of the various birds you might come across.
For those in North America, I would recommend the following sites:
From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/
From the Audubon Society: http://birds.audubon.org/birdid
While internet sites can be helpful, I am of the opinion that there is no substitute for a book in your hands. My recommendations:
The most effective books that I have found for identifying birds are the Peterson Guides (the USA is divided between east & west): Peterson Field Guides: Birds
For their calls, this book is a fantastic addition to a birdwatcher's library: Backyard Birdsong Guides
Go out and find some birds -- and stay warm!