Summary: A big part of bird watching is being able to identify the many different species of the birds you see. Being equipped to identify birds by sight, sound and behaviors can be very easy to achieve by starting out with some simple equipment.
To get into bird watching you must identify a good habitat in which to observe the birds. Without that, all the fancy equipment and birding tools in the world will not help. A simple backyard feeder, a bird sanctuary or a park wildlife area are all places to observe birds in your area. Once you have decided where you will do most of your bird watching, obtaining the equipment you need to help you do the identifying should be next.
Good bird books have color pictures of birds (both male and female) and are a good tool to start learning about the identification process. Before buying your own, investigate different books at the library to help start your hobby. Once you find a good bird watching book you will want to invest in your own copy so that you can make notes about your sightings and observations. Books that have been made specifically for your region are best, because chances are that you will see all of the listed birds at some point.
Learn to identify the different bird families and their habitat and practice locating them in your book. You may be able to identify a bird as being in the woodpecker or hummingbird family and then use your book to identify which specific species you are watching. An expert bird identifier can identify a bird by looking at just the head, at the beak length and color, the eye markings or the crown of the head and throat coloring.
Most birds can be observed at a close enough distance to be able to identify them correctly. But, when it comes to distinguish between species, a pair of birding binoculars will help you to see the details that differentiate the birds. Being able to see the plumage markings, beak coloring and tail formation are details that can be more easily identified when using a pair of binoculars and a bird book.
In addition to books, parks or bird sanctuaries may offer special bird watching walks lead by expert bird identifiers. These experts can help point out habitats and behaviors of the different species, along with having the opportunity to help you identify bird calls and songs.
If you are identifying birds on your own, recordings of bird calls and songs can be purchased or found on-line. By listening closely, you can identify the birds in your area without a sighting of the bird. Sometimes birds can be made to respond to the recordings of their species' song or call. This will help you discover the location if the bird is well hidden.
Birds can be identified by flight patterns or flight dance and even by the way in which they build their nests. Remember, many birds are migratory; which means that you may identify birds that are not present at all times during the year. Also, don't forget to identify birds that are not found at your back yard feeders, but along lake areas, wet lands and grass lands.
Bird watching is a hobby for all ages that can cost almost nothing to participate. Learning to identify the many different species of birds takes little effort, with great rewards for those that give it a try. It can be done in any part of the world.