Bird Watching While Camping

Bird watching is a great addition to your camping activity list.  It is easy to get started and the whole family can take part in the adventure.  Most of us do some bird watching without even thinking about it, so taking it to the next level is very easy.  Bird watching while camping can be more difficult than watching them at home, as we can use a feeder there to draw in the birds.  While camping we will have to seek out them out in their natural habitat, and like many animals, they tend to steer clear of people.

The first step in taking our bird watching to the next level is to bring along a good pair of binoculars.  If you do not have binoculars, borrow a set from a friend or family.  If you plan on buying a pair then look for binoculars that are waterproof, easy to handle/focus, have 7x to 10x magnification and a 30mm to 42mm front lens (this relates to the light gathering ability of the binoculars).  BirdWatchingDaily has a great article that breaks down the binocular terms. Amazon is a great place to shop and read reviews on binoculars.

The next item on our list is a field guide to aid us in identifying the birds we see. When first starting out, look for a regional field guide.  Having a guide that is specific to your area will help in your identification of birds.  Check with the campground or park office where you are camping as they may have some brochures on the local wildlife.  If you have a smartphone you may want to check out an app for bird watching such as iBird.

Remember you may only have seconds to view a bird so look for these features:

  • The shape and size of the bird – big or small – round or slim
  • How is the bird acting/hunting/nesting
  • What are the defining marks/colors
  • What sound the bird makes if any

Make a mental note of the features or even better bring along a small notepad and jot down what you saw.  When you are ready, open up your field guide and try to identify what bird it was that you saw.  Many of the guides have a checklist so you can mark off what you have seen.  Keeping a journal is also a great way to log your bird watching trips.

The most important things to remember are to have fun and be safe.  Check with the campground or park office for resources such as maps and guides on where to head in the park or campground.  With a little planning, you should be able to have a wonderful and safe bird watching experience.

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