• Shashwat Garg

Beginner's Guide to Birdwatching

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

Birds will give you a window if you allow them. They will show you secrets from another world– a fresh vision that, though it is avian, can accompany you home and alter your life. They will do this for you even if you don't know their names– though such knowledge is a thoughtful gesture. They will do this for you if you watch them.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds

A lot of people often get confused between Birding and Birdwatching. While both of them are hobbies and come under similar studies, there is a minor difference between the two.

Birdwatching is a hobby of observing birds by using our naked eye, or by binoculars or a telescope, by listening for bird sounds.

Indian Mira sitting on a branch
Indian Mira- Ajad Singh

Meanwhile, birding is a hobby in which individuals enjoy the challenge of bird study, listing, or other general activities involving birdlife.

With life becoming even more uncertain due to the third wave of Covid and humanity's efforts at adopting the new normal of now staying at home, we thought why not bring to you some new hobby to learn. If you want to learn about gardening, we got you covered with our beginner's guide in gardening with TAOS, if you want to learn about candle making the eco-friendly way we got you covered with our guide to making eco-friendly scented candles.

Very recently we had a conversation with Mr. Ajad Singh, he is an animal rights activist and an avid birdwatcher who started off with sparrow conservation in 2010 and hasn’t stopped since then. He hails from Ayodhya and is extremely passionate about birds. With an MSC. in Zoology from the University of Lucknow, Mr. Ajad and his wife Mrs. Veena have been fighting tooth and nail to save the local and migratory species of birds that come to visit Ayodhya.

Mr. Ajad has helped us put together this beginner's guide in birdwatching. Hope reading this sparks some inspiration and you would try your hand at Bird watching this weekend. Who knows you might fall in love with it.

1. How to start

2. Why do people indulge in birdwatching

3. Important birdwatching tips for beginners

4. When is the best time to go birdwatching

5. Where can one go for birdwatching and some popular birdwatching spots in India

6. Is birdwatching eco-friendly?

How to start Birdwatching?

To start birdwatching, one has to be extremely passionate about it. They should have an attraction towards not only birds but towards all wildlife. However, no passion can be followed without investing in it. We need tons of equipment, dedication, and a whole lot of patience. https://ebird.org is a great place to start as it acts as a database for birds so one can learn a lot about them from here. Ebirds is extremely user-friendly and easy to navigate. It not only informs you about various birds but also provides information such as migratory habits if any, diets, preferred temperatures, etc.

Why do people indulge in birdwatching?

This seems like an obvious question for most. Did you know that as of 2017, bird watching became the US's second most famous hobby? We believe that it is because This is because as you start birdwatching you have to wake up early in the morning as birds are extremely active during the early morning hours. For them, you have to walk a lot in order to watch them, which makes you physically fit and their color, sounds, and other activities get your endorphin levels up, which in turn helps with depression.

Birdwatching is not just for people that are undergoing mental health problems but also for those that want to keep mental health in check and want to invest time and energy in getting to know nature better. Being cooped up in the lockdown has affected many and it is about time that we accept that Work from home and minimized social gathering and the zoom/google calls are going to be the new normal. Birdwatching helps us in getting ahead of cabin fever. However, we strongly advise you to wear your masks and carry a hand sanitizer when going out for birdwatching.

Important birdwatching tips for beginners

Some extremely important birdwatching tips for beginners to keep in mind are

  • Observer's location- They should situate themselves where the possibility of birds are higher like forests, water bodies, grasslands.

Equipments required when birdwatching: Binoculars, Cameras, Jungle boots, Camoflage clothes.
  • Weather Conditions- Weather conditions should be optimal. It shouldn't be too hot or too cold. For a pleasure-filled bird-watching session always go in the morning and during the spring or autumn time.

  • Equipment- Their equipment should be ready, for photography, the camera battery should be charged and they should keep a few memory cards handy. Some equipment to carry with you are: Binoculars, cameras, jungle boots, camouflage dresses etc are a must. The camera should be DSLR and lens should be 200-500 mm of any reputed brand of their choice.

  • Clothing- They should wear light-colored dresses. Preferably camouflage dresses

  • Observer's position- They should not make any noise to disturb birds for photography, they should also follow them but very patiently and from a suitable distance.

A few pointers to keep in mind that professional birdwatchers learn the hard way are:

Tips for Birdwatching
Alert, Silent and Patient

1. Always be alert- These birds would often swoop in and out very fast. Some of the rarely caught on camera moments are when a bird-like kingfisher is hunting. It is not because the camera was not stationed well but because the bird watcher was not paying attention.

2. Always be silent- Birds are easily spooked by sound, so on a birdwatching tour always be silent and keep your devices on silent as well.

3. Patience- Patience is the key to everything in life, and it is no different here. Sometimes the bird may take a lot of time to appear in front of you. So, brave on and carry on. Patience is always rewarded.

Sometimes, even after following all instructions to the tee, there are times when you don't see a bird. But that is okay, don't feel disheartened. Try again the next day morning. Bird watching requires a little bit of luck as well. But as you get better at it and are exposed to it more and more, just like any other hobby or domain of expertise, you get better at it and you will learn to predict patterns.

When is the best time to go birdwatching?

This depends on both the geographical location and the season. For example: In India, winter migratory birds visit in between October and March, while summer migratory birds visit in between April and August.

Where can one go for birdwatching and some popular birdwatching spots in India?

Best locations in India for birdwatching- Keoladev Ghana National Park, Mangalajodi, Sikkim, Nainital
Best locations in India for Bird watching

When it comes to birdwatching, a person can go anywhere where birds gather. Some places where birds usually gather are forests, water bodies, grasslands, all National parks, wildlife sanctuaries, bird sanctuaries, etc.

Some popular birdwatching spots in India are Keoladeo Ghana national park in Bharatpur, Mangalajodi in Chilika Lake, various places in Sikkim, Sattal Nainital, and Chopta in Uttarakhand.

Is birdwatching eco-friendly?

Yes, birdwatching is eco-friendly as we mostly have to move on foot. In water bodies, we can use rowboats like in Chilika Lake and in Bharatpur bird sanctuary, people use cycles and rickshaws to move around. It is said that we should love and respect nature first, only then we can enjoy birdwatching. Other things to remember while Birdwatching would be to not litter and always carry metal bottles of water. The metal bottle would ensure minimal sound as compared to a single-use plastic alternative.

That brings us to the end of our beginner's guide to Birdwatching. If you enjoyed the guide you can always check out Mr. Ajad's online magazine Maghaa to know more about birds and wildlife.

Happy Birdwatching! Tell us in the comments, how your experience was or if we forgot to mention something really important!


The information and the content of this guide belong to the writer. Please email khakhed@gmail.com if you wish to use the information.

The designs belong to Khakhed. Please email khakhed@gmail.com if you wish to use the infographics.


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