One of the biggest challenges in getting started in bird watching is where do you even begin? This depends on you as an individual and what you aim to get out of this hobby, but a great place to start would be in your garden.
You would be surprised to know that there could be many rare species sitting in your garden every morning. Some will be luckier than others, depending on where you are in the world, and you might find very rare birds.
Firstly, grab yourself a bird book and look for the most common birds in your area. People in the UK would usually see some of the birds listed below.
Common birds in your garden
- House Sparrow
- Blue tit
- Great tit
- Wood Pidgeon
- Long tailed tit
Get yourself a notebook or a birding book that has a place where you can track what you see. This is great for you in more ways than you think. Ticking off birds on your list that you have seen can release dopamine in your brain and help you feel good. It can give you purpose in life if you are feeling down.
Once you have completed a list of the most common birds, you might think that’s it for your garden. You will be surprised to find that there are many birds that enjoy stealth.
You might not be able to see them, but they are there. Now this is where listening for them will help you find that illusive bird that might be on that list.
My must have in this situation is the Merlin App. This app will allow you to record the sounds in your garden and will then identify the birds around you. It does it with remarkable accuracy. The one issue I have had with this app is that now and then you will hear a bird, have no idea what it is, and the app will not be able to tell you what it is.
- Merlin ‘app
- Ibird pro
Now that we have covered some of the more common birds and that you have crossed most of the birds off your list in your garden, you can look at attracting some of the less common birds.
Feeding stations in your garden can help the birds thrive. If you have the time and the budget to setup a feeding station, you will be greatly rewarded. Seeing a green woodpecker arrive in your garden every morning can be a sight to behold.
I had a green woodpecker in my garden for over a year. Every morning without fail, it would be enjoying my garden for over 30 minutes. A little time and effort can give you this reward and help the birds in an increasingly difficult world for birds.
That being said, this should be done carefully as birds will often travel great distances for recurring food and if they get there and there is no food, it can lead to trouble for the poor bird.
If you are going to feed birds, it has to be consistent. A parent bird can leave its chicks alone while looking for food, and if it doesn’t make it home, the poor chicks perish.
Now that is out of the way lets see some of the rarer birds that can be in your garden
Rare birds in your garden
- Green Woodpecker
- Willow tit
- Pied Flycatcher
If you are going to attract some of the rarest birds in your garden, then it is worth trying to capture them on camera or using a wildlife camera.
I use the Nikon D3500 with a remote control to capture my garden. It is expensive, but the results can be incredible if you can get the situation right.
When you have seen and again ticked off most of the birds in your garden, you should start venturing out. I was surprised to find a few bird hides within a mile of my house when I first started, and that should be your next port of call.
It might be a good idea to get prepared when visiting hides. Bird hides are not always close to the birds, so getting a monocular or binoculars can help enhance the experience greatly.
Herons are fantastic birds to spot in the wild. They can get spooked fairly easily, so being quiet and moving slowly might help you get that experience more quickly.