how to be a better birder

Meet the Course Instructor

how to be a better birder

Why I Made This Course

“Are you sick and tired of looking up birds in the field guide and not knowing how to identify them? Are you ready to learn some quick tips and tricks from the Cornell Lab team to help you learn how to use size and shape cues to identify birds more accurately and quickly?

The main goal of this course is to equip you with the tools you need to identify birds so that your field guide becomes a helpful friend. “.

how to be a better birder

how to be a better birder

It is helpful to take a step back and focus on what’s most important when you spot a bird, as opposed to frantically trying to remember every detail. Size and shape are important features to pay attention to, and mastering how they relate to one another will improve your birding abilities. Learn to identify the species from just its silhouette, be it a finch, woodpecker, or dove. Six lessons totaling four videos, four interactives, and eight quizzes make up this course. If you pass the final exam, you have the option of receiving a printable certificate.

So what advantage leads some birds to stay solo? Avoiding competition for food is probably a big part of it. Belted Kingfishers, for example, never gather in flocks. During the winter, each individual defends its own feeding territory along a stream or shoreline. These territories seem to be just large enough to reliably support a single kingfisher. One Ohio study found that where small fishes were more abundant or feeding conditions were better, the territories were smaller, indicating that the kingfisher didn’t bother to defend a larger area than necessary.

When an American Robin or a House Finch is directly in front of you in bright light, perhaps you can recognize it with ease. Perhaps you are familiar with the nasal awwnk-ah-rrreeee song of the male Red-winged Blackbird, but what about the wide variety of other sounds made by this species? Perhaps a quick glance is sufficient to identify an adult male American Goldfinch in his bright yellow summer attire, but what about the subtler females, or the muted tones of winter plumage?

Kenn Kaufman: Whenever I respond to a query regarding how to become “better” at birdwatching, I begin by restating a previous post of mine. “Since birdwatching is a recreational activity, anyone who finds enjoyment in it is already an expert birder.” If it makes you happy, you’re an excellent birdwatcher. ”.

In other words, it’s okay to simply enjoy birds at any level—no one should feel under pressure to “advance” toward expert status. However, many find that when they can identify more of the birds they see and hear, birding becomes more enjoyable. Gaining proficiency in identification makes you feel good, and as we identify more species while out and about, the more we learn about the state of the bird world. So it’s worthwhile to work on these abilities.

Whos Kenn? Simply put, Kenn is a national treasure. Kenn Kaufman is a well-known birder, writer, and conservationist who has devoted his life to studying birds, writing about birds, and educating people about birds. In addition to serving as Audubon magazine’s field editor, he is an avid birder. Thus, we just ask Kenn whenever we have a bird-related question at work that stumps us. You can now ask Kenn any questions you may have about birds or birdwatching by sending us an email or leaving a comment on our Facebook page. Perhaps next month you’ll receive from Kenn the kind of comprehensive, considerate, and even lighthearted response we’ve grown to love over the years. —The Editors.


What time of day is best for birding?

Become a Morning Person Noon is when birds are least active, Stiteler says. If you have your heart set on seeing many species, you’ll have to accept the fact that birds are most vocal and active when the sun comes up, making them easier to spot and identify during those early hours, Merritt says.

What is a birders life list?

A birding life list is typically a list of all the species that a person has seen over their lifetime. Birders describe adding a new species to their list as seeing a new ‘lifer’. For example, after a recent birding trip, a birder may say: “I saw 5 new lifers on my trip to Madera Canyon, Arizona last week.”