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ABCs of Bird Watching

There are two, distinctive segments of the hobby of bird watching.

  • There are those that feed and watch birds in their backyard.
  • There are those that move far beyond the backyard with the purpose of seeing new and different bird species.
  • Some people do both.

In combination, over 50 million Americans watch and feed birds, expending over $20 billion each year in the process.

Bird feeding

Bird feeding represents the larger of the two groups. It can be enjoyed by anyone. It can be as simple as spreading seed on the ground. As interest in the hobby grows a variety of feeders and feed can be added to attract more species. Birdbaths are easy additions and attract a larger diversity of species than feeders alone. As bird identification becomes more important binoculars and a field guide become a valuable aid.  Some basic information on feeding birds is available from the menu on the left. 

More detailed information is available from the links on the top of the page.

  • Belted Kingfisher Belted Kingfisher Female
  • Evening Grosbeak Male Evening Grosbeak
  • Dickcissel dickcissel


The second segment is now known as birding. Those that participate in the hobby are birders. On one end of the spectrum birding can be a casual hobby. On the other end it can become a competitive sport, with individuals or teams seeking to identify the greatest number of different species in a specified time frame. Birders require a good pair of binoculars and a field guide to participate in their hobby. As interest grows, spotting scopes and life lists often become essential elements of the hobby.

Tools of the trade

Select from the navigation menu on the left for information on selecting a field guide, binoculars and other quality equipment. 

Birding Quick Hits

Consider leaving some of your dead flowers up through the fall and winter months, if their seeds are still present. Migrating and winter visitors may stop by to enjoy a free meal.