Looking for resolutions? Here are 10 ways to sharpen your birding skills

by Anders and Beverly Gyllenhaal
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It’s not the best time to go birding in many places, but it is the perfect time to plan how we can become betters birders in the year ahead.

Over the last year, as thousands of newcomers found their way to birding amid the pandemic, we developed a series of posts in a Flying Lesson’s section called Beverly’s Birding Basics. We’ve collected them all on this page,  along with links, suggestions and tools. 

Beverly with her binoculars and birding bag, both topics in these posts.

Here are the 10 best of these posts. They cover everything from how to get started as a birder to how to find the right binoculars, from which birding apps are most effective to what you might want to take on the birding trail. 

You might even find a self-improvement goal or two if you’re still looking for resolutions. 

A good place to start is with the basic equipment of birding. Beverly’s three pieces on binoculars were among the most popular post of the year — and continue to draw constant traffic.

  1. Experts say a good place to start as a birder is to learn the common birds, such as this Eastern Bluebird.

    Enhance your birding life: The first to mention is her story on how a good pair of binoculars can change your birding life, a post that explores the power and beauty of seeing birds up close.

  2. Get the right first pair: The logical next post on how to buy your first pair of binoculars, which is a lot more complicated than you’d think. 
  3. Make the most of those binoculars: The last of this series is her story on how to make the most of your binoculars. It’s tempting to think that binoculars are a snap to use, but there are important things to understand as you get serious about birding.
  4. Advice on getting started: Our next recommendation is a post that gathers advice from some of the best birders around on how, where and when you’ll have the best success as you get started.
  5. Learning to bird by ear: As you get deeper into birding, identifying birds by their calls and songs is key skill. This post makes the case that while it’s not easy, putting in the time will deliver years of rewards. 

    Birding apps can be a big help on the trail. We look at which apps are the best, and which can help in what ways.

  6. Find the best birdsong apps: And if birding by ear doesn’t come easily, there are now more than a half dozen smartphone apps that will help do the work for you. Here’s our analysis on which of these works best. 
  7. Back-yard birding: Particularly during the pandemic, many birders have rediscovered the pleasure of birding in their yards and neighborhoods. This post looks at the apps that can help with that. 
  8. Follow birding etiquette: We all need to learn the obvious and subtle rules of birding, and Beverly’s post on how she learned them the hard way is a nice read full of advice.
  9. Take the next steps: Beverly’s post on how to elevate your birding skills has been one of the most popular.
  10. Be a generous birder: And lastly, we’ll offer up our essay on the importance and returns of helping others in their birding journey. Here’s to a great year of birding ahead!
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