Birding 101: How to seek nature in your own backyard

North American Robin in the grass
An American Robin hops around the grass.

What is birding?

Birding is the practice of identifying birds around you, often with the use of binoculars and a journal. It can be done alone, or with a group, and it can be done at any time of the day.

How to get started?

All you have to do is step outside and notice the birds around you. Although binoculars aren’t necessary, they can help you to better see the details on birds in your area. Consider using a field guide to identify birds you don’t recognize. The Chesapeake Bay Program has a field guide featuring common birds of the watershed. You may also want to download a digital guide like iNaturalist or the Audubon App to reference in the field. These tools use different characteristics like color, size, shape, and call to help you identify the bird. It can be fun to keep track of the birds you’ve seen by keeping a birding journal. When going birding, it is always a good idea to be prepared. You should always keep water on you and try to stay on trails to avoid poison ivy and ticks.

Benefits of birding

  • It is highly gratifying to seek out new wildlife you've never seen before
  • It is a great way to exercise through walking
  • It gives you an opportunity to explore your surroundings
  • It is highly meditative and relaxing
  • It gives you an opportunity to enjoy nature with friends and family

Who can go birding?

Birding is truly a uniting hobby that anyone from any background can enjoy. Campaigns such as Black Birders Week celebrate the diversity of birders and are working to change the misconceptions about what you have to look like in order to get out and enjoy our beautiful planet.

Where to go birding?

When looking for spots to go birding, you really can go anywhere. From your backyard to your neighborhood park and all the way to State and National Parks. Use the Find Your Chesapeake site to find places to go in your area.

Now that you know the ins and outs of birding, all that’s left to do is get outdoors and start!

About the Author: This blog was written by Yazan Hasan. Yazan is a Junior at the University of Maryland studying Environmental Science. He’s currently an Interpretive Outreach Assistant with the Chesapeake Conservancy. In his free time Yazan enjoys hiking, bicycling, and birding.