Birdwatching, as all those who participate in this activity should well know through experience, is a pleasurable, rewarding, & relaxing experience.
Those who participate do so through an inherent care, appreciation, and fascination of their chosen subject, (Birds), though in doing so, they themselves retain a "Duty of Care" while undertaking their activity.
This "Duty of Care" takes upon an even greater importance when consideration is given to the necessary Educational aspect of Birdwatching; necessary for that in the pursuit of and ongoing continual involvement in our chosen activity, the ongoing well being of our Native Birdlife, and hence that of their Habitat, must be considered.
Introduce others to your pastime, in particular youth
Establish a link in their understanding between the species they are studying and that of the Habitat they exist in
Perhaps they may be able to attract some of the Birds they are observing to their own properties by planting Bird attracting trees and shrubs
(Of appropriate Species)
Or if in Rural regions, establishing corridors and linkages with adjoining Habitat Remnants
Point out, as their "Tutoring" progresses, the role that Birds play in our daily lives -
Insects and other pests are controlled by Birds
Birds dispose of organic wastes such as carrion and food scraps
Birds pollinate many plant species
Plant seeds are dispersed by Birds
Often overlooked is the pleasure and soothing aspect of actually having Birds as companions in our daily lives
Lead by example your new participants -
Be aware of nesting times and territories of Species you are observing, so as to avoid approaching these to the point of disturbance
Never make public the nesting sites of individual Birds
Keep in small groups to avoid disturbance of Birds, (a maximum of five is preferable), and keep to tracks, (if present), to avoid damage to Habitat
If Bird observing near habitation, especially on a regular basis, if possible make yourself known to the locals, and the purpose of your activities
It may be to your advantage in gaining new "recruits", and access to new Birding territory!
· Always advise others as to where you are going, and when you may be expected to return
· No matter how close or distant your destination may be, or how long you may expect to be away, always take food and water with you
· Wear appropriate clothing, ie – long sleeved shirt and trousers, hat and appropriate footwear
· Always carry a First Aid Kit with you
· Always have with you a communication device, (acknowledging that some regions do not have mobile coverage)
· If Birding in unfamiliar or new territory, always have with you a Map and directional device
Have a Great Birding Day! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Birdwatching – Some General Information”
Learning to Bird –
Birds are where you find them!
They occur in all Habitats, from Rainforest to Open Forest, Wetlands to Deserts, Mountain Ranges to Plains, Polar Regions, and of course in Urban and Metropolitan Regions.
Considering then that most Human populations now reside in Urban and Metropolitan situations, a great percentage of new Birders need not have to travel far to “Learn” Birds.
Representatives of each Bird Group, whether they may consume Nectar, Fruit, or Insects, as well as Wetland Species such as Ducks, Ibis and Herons etc, (even some of the Raptors), are likely to be found in and about local Parks, Gardens and Ponds, as well as Backyards, of the Town or City you may live in.
Perhaps the only group lacking, unless you may live in a Rural area, are the Seed eaters (Finches), though most Towns and Cities may still have Sparrows!
All you will need then to “Learn” Birds are a set of Binoculars, a Reference Book, Note Book, Pencil or Biro, patience, an inherent interest, spare time, and an enquiring mind!
Take note of the following details in your Note Book –
· The Birds’ size
· The Birds’ shape
· Shape and size of Bill
· What it is feeding on
· Where it is feeding (in trees or on ground etc)
· Its’ habits – how it feeds, moves, behaves etc
· Its’ colours
Watching a Bird until you observe it making its’ call is a good way to establish a link in your mind of the call, and when you hear it again, the Bird that makes it.
Most Birds have a variety of calls that you will learn over time, but there are “standards” that you should quickly get to know.
· Remember, there are Mimics in the Bird World; eg – the Spangled Drongo mimics well the Pied Butcherbird, though always with the “Accent” of a Spangled Drongo!
· With practice over time, you will learn to recognize these differences.
Writing down all the above information will serve to fix this in your mind, making it easier for you to remember, until eventually you will not have to record all these basic details, unless of course you observe a new species.
Over time, as you gain more experience, you will be concerned only with recording species and numbers of these you may see, though be sure to record any unusual behavior you may observe.
· Join a local Birding Society if one exists in your Region
· Subscribe to Birding Publications
· Many Birding Groups now have Websites where Members may exchange information and experiences while Birding __________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Birding Aids -
Binoculars vary greatly in type, price range, and suitability for individual
users’ vision. We do not make recommendations of these, as what may suit one
user may not be suitable for the vision of another. Your final choice will
depend on their suitability for you and the monetary outlay you may wish to
Always “try before you buy”.
is an abundant variety of Birdwatching Reference Books available. As with
Binoculars, Birders have their own individual preferences in these. It is
always best to have more than one reference, as no one publication has all the
information you may require, and images of birds portrayed in these do vary
from one to the other, enabling a “cross reference” of a species' features you
may be in the process of identifying.
We list below Birding Reference
Books we use in the Field and at Home –
· The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds
· “What Bird is That” - A Guide to the Birds of Australia by Neville W. Cayley
· Michael Morcombe – Field Guide to Australian Birds
Tapes and CD’s – Tapes and CD’s of Bird Calls are nearly as prolific. When choosing these, try to ensure that you purchase recordings that are made in your local area, for example “Bird Calls of South East Queensland” etc, as opposed to a recording of calls from another State other than where you may live, as calls of individual species do vary in degree from region to region. Remember though, never use recorded bird calls as an attractant for Birds in the field, as this will disrupt nesting and territorial activity.
Tablets and Laptops - With the continuing advancements in computer technology, smaller more portable versions of computers have become available such as Tablets and Laptops, allowing you to take to the field electronic versions of your favourite Birding reference book, complete with calls.
We predict that the day is not too far distant when the Birdwatcher will be able to take into the field a device that will record a Dawn Chorus, and instantly by analyzing this provide a list of all the Bird Species that participated, (if such a device is not already in existence).
Won’t that take all the fun out of Birdwatching?!
However, we believe that a place still exists, as it will always, for “Paper” editions of all Books, and your local Bookshop or On-line Store will be able to provide you with more than those Birding References we list above, as well as Electronic versions, plus Tapes and CD’s of Birds Calls available.
Photography – As your Birding identification ability progresses, you may even “down the track” consider purchasing a Camera to record your Bird “subjects”. Photography, in relation to Birdwatching and identification, is an extremely useful tool, enabling you to not only rely on your memory for what you may have seen, but have a record for future reference and identification needs. Photography is a tool we use
regularly in Migratory Shorebird studies to obtain a record of plumage changes
and numbers, and to identify species not easily noticed at the time through
Binoculars and Telescopes.
Visit your local Camera Store for
the range available.
Generally, the best times to Birdwatch providing most activity are early morning and late afternoon – Sunrise, (Dawn Chorus), to around 8am, and around 3pm to just before Dusk.
The Dawn Chorus, as Birds are re-establishing their territories, combined with their following feeding activity after the night roost should provide you with, depending on Habitat variety, a sizeable list of Species.
The late afternoon to a lesser degree is again time for feeding, watering and bathing before the night roost, (in Summer especially after the midday heat).
In Summer your afternoon Birding forays too may need to be delayed to 4pm or 4.30pm to escape the heat in warmer months, while in cooler months, Bird activity is more evenly distributed through the day.
This is a guide only, as Habitat type, form, and weather conditions all play a part in daily Bird distribution and activity.
A tall canopy with a well established understory can provide good Birding even in the warmest part of the day as Birds work the cooler forest floor and lower vegetation.
A shaded clearing with a good forest edge again can provide productive midday Birding, especially, as a variation, with a cool running waterway or a waterhole; sit down with your Binoculars, notebook, pen and a cool drink and let the Birds come to you!
Don’t be discouraged by an initial absence of Birdlife, Birds at times move through the forest canopy and middle storey in feeding flocks of mixed Species, their larger numbers together stirring up insects.
In windy conditions, seek a sheltered position, for example behind a sheltering stand of trees, in a gully or behind a ridge, (this is what the Birds do).
Again, don’t be discouraged by wet weather; we have done some of our best Birding in showery conditions.
In between showers, especially in breaks of sunshine, birds forage actively for “waterlogged” insects forced closer to the ground.
· When first arriving at a Birding Site, stop, look, and listen before proceeding further.
· A view point from a ridge or other high point overlooking the site, (if present), will aid you in this.
· Look for signs of feeding activity, flowering or fruiting trees.
· Listen for calls.
The above procedure will at most
times provide you with a good initial representative list of Bird species
present at this site before proceeding further.
As mentioned earlier, Birds are where you find them, though as a guide we outline below some hints that may provide for you the best Birding opportunities for yourself and the introduction of others to the wonders of our Avian Fauna -
· Rainforests and similar vegetation types are spectacular and beautiful; though worth visiting for their own unique and colourful Bird species, as a habitat they are not likely to provide the numbers of Bird species you may find along forest edge, (Eco-tonal), plant communities.
· The best waterways to observe Birds bathing or drinking need to be shallow with plenty of perching opportunities, eg, sticks, branches or rocks, and fringing cover.
· Know your local forest – the flowering and fruiting times of individual plants and trees; a well established fruiting Fig tree will provide an excellent opportunity to view Fruit Doves and others flocking to feed! · Most Wetland species, (Ducks, Grebes etc), prefer shallow Dams and Ponds rather than large, deeper water bodies