Now that we’ve been embracing slower, low-tech activities like puzzles, knitting and crafting, it could also be a good time to start birdwatching. It’s something you can do by yourself out in nature, or from the convenience of your own home (or even fire escape). If you’re an old birdwatching pro, you probably know what you’re looking for/at when it comes to winged creatures. But if you’re new to the hobby, it can be tough to know where and how to start. Do you just pick up a pair of binoculars and hit the park? How do you know what kind of birds you find? Whether you’re a novice or experienced in the art of birdwatching, the eBird app can probably help—and it’s free.
What can you do with the eBird app?
As the world’s largest birding community, eBird is packed with features. Operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, when you use the app, you’re also participating in scientific research. (It also happens to be the world’s largest biodiversity-related science projects, with more than 100 million bird sightings submitted each year.) Here are a few resources to help get you started:
Intro to birding course
Just starting out? The app offers a free online course in birdwatching., as well as how to use eBird and make the most of its resources.
Not sure what kind of bird you’ve spotted? The Merlin Bird ID is a free, global bird ID and field guide app powered by your sightings and media.
G/O Media may get a commission
New to an area, or not familiar with the birds outside your window? The Target Species feature will give you a prioritized list of county, state or local birds that you can expect to find in a region.
Sights and sounds
This part of the app allows you to explore photos and sounds of birds. This can be a useful tool as you begin to identify different species.
Keep track of the birds you’ve seen
Once you have a better understanding of birdwatching, you’ll probably want to start tracking the ones you see. The eBird app allows you to gather information in the form of checklists, as well as managing your lists, photos and audio recordings. You’ll also get access to real-time maps of species distribution and alerts that let you know when species have been seen. The information you record will be added to their worldwide database, allowing others to learn from what you’ve seen. Happy birding!