Many people look for exciting activities to try during family vacations, and nature provides endless opportunities to experience wonder and calm. Birding is a great way to explore the world and learn about nature wherever you are. If no one in your family has ever explored this rewarding hobby before, here’s where to get started on bird identification.
How to Start Birding
1. Get a Species Guide
Head to the library or purchase a bird guide featuring species in the region where you live. Choose books from a reputable source like the National Audubon Society to learn each bird's coloring, size, habitat, and behaviors. This way, you’ll have a grasp on what birds to be on the lookout for.
Use phone apps like Merlin Bird ID to denote your location and the bird characteristics before viewing a list of species you may have seen. This interactive method is especially helpful for kids because it turns birding into a game.
2. Bring Binoculars
Many bird species in the U.S. are only a few inches tall, making them difficult to spot with the naked eye. Outfit your family with binoculars to expand how far they can see and increase the number of details they can decipher.
Binocular models contain two numbers, such as an 8x42 pair or a 10x32 pair. The first number refers to the magnification power or how many times closer the object is to you when looking through the scope, while the second indicates how large, in millimeters, the lens is horizontally. The larger the lens, the better viewing experience you will have due to increased brightness and lighting.
Most birders use 8x32 or 8x42 pairs because they have a large field of view while providing excellent magnification. Purchase several pairs at a sporting goods store or check out used gear sites and thrift shops for more affordable options.
3. Learn About Locations
Bird species differ from one area to the next. Start by identifying the species around your home to get used to using the bird guides. Then, take a family vacation to a campground surrounded by woods where you can explore new birds and expand your knowledge.
4. Take Notes
It’s helpful to carry a small notebook and pencils to write about or draw the species you see. Include a sketch of the birds and add a description of where you saw them, what they looked like, and what they were doing so you can identify each later. Give your kids designated notebooks to make observations and keep a running tally of the different birds you’ve seen.
People looking for family vacation spots to try birding should check out Bigfoot Adventure TN in Grundy County. The 500-acre natural property features RV and tent sites plus fun amenities like disc golf and zip lining. Call the Tracy City location at (931) 488-8652 or visit the website for information on campground reservations to bring your family into the heart of nature.