Birdwatching or birding, if you prefer, is a great way to remain active, experience the outdoors, and learn about wildlife. Indiana is home to more than 150 species of breeding birds that thrive in a variety of habitats, including marshes, forests, and grasslands. Indiana birds also appear in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and vibrant colors, and include raptors, songbirds, hummingbirds, and marsh birds. If you are looking to become a member of a birding team, here is a list of tips to help get you started:
• Start with the proper equipment. Borrow or buy a pair of binoculars that are comfortable for you to use and carry. Binoculars will help you observe field marks and colors to identify bird species. Dress comfortably for the appropriate habitat where you will be. Wear clothing that is quiet and has colors that blend into the background to avoid spooking birds.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to other birders. They can provide tips for differentiating species or finding good birding spots.
• Carry a field guide for reference. Reviewing the birds common to your area before beginning birdwatching activities and having the guide in the field can help you have a successful birdwatching adventure. Several smart-phone applications are also available.
• Keep it simple. It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to identify bird species. Narrow down species options by characteristics such as size, shape, color pattern, habitat, and behavior. For example, is it larger or smaller than an American crow? Is the tail forked? Did you find the bird in a backyard or in a wetland? Is it in a flock or alone?
• Learn birdcalls. This may be a skill set developed after some practice, but learning birdcalls and tricks to remember bird sounds is helpful in spotting birds. For example, think of a red-eyed vireo saying, “Where are you? Here I am,” or an ovenbird saying, “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!”
• Be respectful of other wildlife watchers and the wildlife around you. Make human and wildlife welfare your highest priority as you get started in birding.
List of bird species found in Indiana