It has all the drama and intrigue of your favorite Netflix show. It’s an activity that can be done from home and doesn’t involve watching TV, drinking or cleaning. In short, backyard birding is the perfect quarantine activity.
“It’s like having a whole cast of characters outside your window,” Angela Roth said. “The hummingbirds, they’re kind of like divas and they are known to be backyard bullies. I’ve been watching the swallows try and take over the bluebird nesting boxes, so you’ve got your villains.” From her home in the Spokane, Wash., area, Roth said backyard bird-watching is “sheer entertainment.”
Below are some tips, tricks and advice for the novice backyard birder.
Listen carefully: A common beginner mistake is to focus too much on the seeing and not enough on the listening, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife commissioner Kim Thorburn said.
Learning the different songs and calls of birds will help you find the birds in your backyard and identify them. The Audubon Society has recordings of bird songs and calls online.
That also means that binoculars aren’t vital, at least at first, especially when watching from your backyard. Instead, Thorburn recommends trying out several pairs of binoculars, either borrowing from friends or going to a store, before purchasing one.
To feed or not to feed: In the spring, it’s not necessary to put feed out for songbirds, said Madonna Luers, a spokeswoman for the Spokane Audubon Society. Having a water source is more important for attracting songbirds. If you do put out bird food, it’s important to keep the food fresh and the feeder clean to avoid disease.