I love hiking. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are with as long as you are on a trail somewhere. One of the things I enjoy is being in nature and having silence or just the sound of some birds. Yes, it seems that no matter where you are walking, you will almost always see or hear some birds. Unlike large mammals, which are more difficult to see, birds are ubiquitous. Here are some simple tips to help hikers learn how to become better bird watchers and get more out of their time in nature.
First of all, it is important to be quiet and listen (unless you are in an area heavily used by bears). Birds always talk and listen. This means that they can hear if people are around, which can sometimes cause them to shut up. To prevent them from getting quiet, you should try to shut up yourself and listen around you. You may be surprised at the number and variety of birds you can hear anywhere. Once you hear where the bird noise is coming from, the trick becomes trying to see the bird.
Then try walking or walking slowly. If you take a brisk walk or walk, you won’t see as many birds as if you were slower. The best way to see and hear many birds is to walk slowly and pay attention to the sounds and movements along the trail. If you are trying to get a good workout and want to go fast, you can try alternating your pace. For example, try going very fast for 15 minutes, then slow down and walk for 5 or 10 minutes, then go fast again for 15 and so on.
If you still want to walk fast, another option for you, which is even better than walking slowly, is to stay still. This is actually a great idea for anyone, regardless of what pace you are walking at. Pick a nice spot somewhere out of the way and just sit or stand still for several minutes. This could be on a rock, a log, or under a tree. By staying still and keeping your eyes and ears open, you will have the opportunity to see or hear all the birds in the area. Birds can even get used to your presence and start to activate again.
Fortunately, you can really choose anywhere to sit and search for birds because birds live everywhere and in all habitats. You can see birds near water, in forests, open meadows, or high in the mountains. With this in mind, the best places to see most birds are places on the edge of two different habitats, such as at the edge of a forest next to a meadow. Another great place to see lots of birds is near water, such as along a stream, river, lake, or wetland.
While walking or sitting still, you should always be aware of movement. Often times, you may only see a flash of movement in the corner of your eye. That movement can turn out to be just a few leaves blown by the wind or it can turn out to be a bird darting from one bush to another. If you stand still and look that way, you may see the bird move again. It can be difficult to see a bird still in a bush or tree. But, once that bird moves, you will easily see it, and by following its movement, you will be able to see where it lands.
Birds tend to be more active at certain times of the day, which makes them easier to spot because they fly or move around a lot. Fortunately for hikers, the best times of the day for bird watching are also good times to go hiking. The best times to see birds are early in the morning or in the evening, as this is when most birds are most active. I love hiking in the morning or at night when it’s not too hot and you can even get the added bonus of watching a sunset.
Following these simple tips will help you see lots of birds the next time you go hiking. The next step is to learn how to begin to identify the birds you are seeing.