Lower Columbia Basin Audubon Society
BIRDING - HOW TO
Resources for Kids and All New Birders
NEW to BIRDING? This page was created for YOU.
It links you to all sorts of birding resources on the Web.
These links will lead you to others.
Information on this page is primarily applicable for birding in the Tri-Cities, Washington area.
Click on any link for more information.
Bird Field Guides
A Bird Field Guide describes many kinds of birds in detail with pictures. Many great ones are available. The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley is one of the most popular and complete. New guides can be found in bookstores; used guides are often found in used bookstores.
Before spending money on a new guide, look at several to decide what style you like.
Photographs vs. Drawings:
Many books use photographs instead of drawings. Some birders prefer drawings because that shows the typical coloring of the bird clearly, and draws attention to key features that are hard to photograph. Photographs can be too dark or too light and only show one bird at a particular time. It takes many photographs to show what a single drawing can show.
Geographic area covered by your Field Guide book: Your first guide should probably include all the birds in the Western United States or in the entire United States. You may be frustrated if your guide has only a small selection of birds. The bird you see may not be in it!
Use both parts of the guide. The introduction will teach you how to use the guide, how to find birds, what parts of the bird are called (see bird 'topography' below), and much more. The rest of the guide describes each bird in detail.
Visit Birderslibrary.com for reviews and descriptions of four popular bird guides for North America.
Groups of birds are important as well as the individual birds. Is your bird a duck, a thrush, or a gull? Read the headings of these sections to start dividing birds into smaller groups that you can remember.
Take the local bird list and find the groups of birds that occur locally. Then refer to your Bird Field Guide to learn about those birds.
Birds rarely get close enough for us to study them without binoculars. Binoculars magnify what you see. However, if you have good vision, you will soon be able to identify many birds without binoculars, by their overall size and shape, their behavior, and their sound.
Binoculars vary in magnifying power. Most birders use 8x35, 8x50, 10x35 or 10x50 sizes. The articles below will help you understand these numbers.
Binoculars vary in size, weight and quality. They should be comfortable for you to carry and use. If you wear glasses, decide if you will use binoculars with your glasses. Some binoculars work better with glasses than others. Find a binocular strap that is comfortable on your shoulders or neck.
Good quality binoculars are expensive. Try a variety before you choose.
The following articles contain detailed information about binoculars; we provide these links for information only, not as a purchasing recommendation.
The Age of Binoculars (Cornell Lab 2005)
The Ideal Birding Binocular (website of Christopher, LTD, Optics company)
Birding Optics (from Birdwatching.com, various articles)
List of Common Birds in the Tri-Cities (Washington) and how to use it
More than 40 birds are commonly seen in the Tri-Cities. If you live in town, you may see these birds in your yard, in local parks, near the river, or overhead on power lines, poles, and trees. If you live or go outside of town, you will see birds in fields and open areas.
We have created lists of common bird species seen here, with notes about where and when you might see the birds. You might want to print these lists. Use the list with your Bird Field Guide to learn the common birds of the Tri-Cities.
Local Bird Lists (Tri-Cities.Washington)
Local checklists are printed and ready to carry with you.
Where to go birding in the Lower Columbia Basin, Washington
Start birding where you live. Watch the birds in your yard and neighborhood. Soon you will want to find more birds.
There are dozens of places to go birding in the Tri-Cities and many more nearby.
Visit our Birding Locations webpages to find local areas where birds can be seen. These pages are linked to special Google Maps we created which describe where to park, where to walk, and what you might see there.
Watch this video to learn about birding habitat all over the country.
The photo above is a House Finch.
You can recognize the males by the color on their crown and throat.
Field Notes / Observation Form
Birders often keep notes about the birds they see. Here is an example to print.
Blank Observation (Field Note) Form (pdf format)
One way to use this form is to fill out an Observation (or Field Note) page for each kind of bird you see.
If you hear a bird, and think you know what it is, follow this link to the Cornell BIRD GUIDE, search for the bird by name, and then play the sound recording. Compare the recording to what you heard.
Example: Bird Guide: House Sparrow Sound (Follow this link, then scroll down to find the sound recording option). (Don't forget to turn on the sound on your computer.)
Bird Topography (names for parts of the bird)
When people describe birds, they use special terminology. For a good bird identification, it may be useful to look at and describe parts such as:
to see a drawing of a bird and to click on the parts of its body.
Feeding birds brings some of the birds closer to you. Supplies can be bought in many variety stores. Visit our webpage: Feeding Birds
Our favorite source of supplies is Columbia Grain & Feed, 2001 W. Lewis in Pasco. If you buy bird feeding supplies there, ask them to make a donation to Audubon at no cost to you. Based on your purchase, Audubon/LCBAS gets money that supports education programs.
Where to Get Help
LCBirds2 - local Birding bulletin board
LCBirds2 is a Yahoo group bulletin board - all about birding in the Tri-Cities. Anyone can read the messages. You must be a member to post messages, look at photos, or post photos of your own. Joining is free. Why should you read messages on LCBirds2? You'll learn what birds members are seeing now and where. You'll be the first to hear if a rare bird shows up. Members can post questions about birding and other members will answer
To become a member of LCBirds2, you must have or create a Yahoo ID and then join the group. Choose whether or not you want to get emails and where you want the email sent. You can withdraw from the group at any time. Follow the link LCBirds2 to see what this group looks like.
LCBAS Bateman Island Bird Walks
LCBAS leads a community bird walk the first Saturday morning of each month, September through June. Anyone is invited to come. Walks last about 2 hours. It's a good idea to bring binoculars if you have them. Some birders will have spotting scopes and they will let you look at birds through their scopes. You will see all kinds of birds, from tiny chickadees to large pelicans.
LCBAS Chapter Meetings
Evening Chapter meetings are held monthly September through June. Often the program is about birds or other nature topics. Most meetings include a five-minute bird "lesson" about a few specific birds. Public is invited. Visit the LCBAS Homepage for details.
LCBAS Junior Audubon
Recently a Junior Audubon program for students (grade school and above) has been formed.
How should a birder behave when birding? There are somethings that new birders may not realize. Check this American Birding Association website for birding guidelines.
Other Resources Have fun birding !!
Top 10 Tips for Birding with kids (from Cornell)
Birding Basics (from National Audubon)
Audubon at Home - Healthy Yards (from National Audubon)
American Birding Assn's Young Birders' Home Page
Browse Birds of Washington State (from Birdweb.org)
(thank you to Larry Umthun for the photos used on this page)
if links don't work or if you have other questions about this