Observing Your Backyard Birds

Bird enthusiasts have enjoyed watching birds flock to their feeders for years, laughing at the avian antics and marveling at their acrobatics. Some birders have taken an extra step, and have been monitoring and journaling the birds which frequent their feeder. Such observation is becoming increasingly important to the scientific community. We have several tools that can help you observe and identify the feathered visitors in your birding sanctuary.

In this increasingly manmade world, ornithologists are continually scrutinizing the populations of migratory birds. Watching the birds visiting your feeder can aid in their research. By journaling the different birds you see at the feeder, this will help determine if populations of that bird are rising, falling, or remaining steady. Moreover, noting the time of year different birds frequent your yard help determine migratory patterns, and if they are changing. Many established ornithologists use information from home birders to supplement their research. By enrolling in such a program, you can not only learn more about local birds, but also aid in furthering conservation research.

Great tools for observation are binoculars and cameras. Both of these instruments will offer more details than can be seen from the naked eye. Optics with a high magnification power will allow you to see every bit of the bird better, helping ascertain the correct species. Additionally, setting up a camera next to the feeder will help you view the birds visiting the area when you are not able to personally watch it.

If you are unsure of the avian species you are seeing, a good idea is to cross reference your observations with birding guides and software. Field guides are usually divided by bird type, and are compiled and printed for the eastern and western half of the United States. Additionally, software programs for birds specific to your state, birds of your region, birds that visit particular feeders, or all the birds in North America can help determine which species are in your backyard. For additional assistance, audio guides will help isolate bird calls you have heard.

Observing birds visiting your feeder is not only a rewarding hobby, but also a necessary part of scientific research. Such close observation can indicate fluctuations in bird populations, and help scientists learn even more about our feathered friends. Using tools such as optics, cameras, books, and software will aid you in learning more about birds, as well as properly identifying those in your sanctuary.