The basics of bird watching

A start-up guide to track our feathered friends

January 31, 2014 05:44 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 08:50 pm IST - Tiruchi

The vibrant Coppersmith Barbet can be seen in banyan trees. Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan/Conservation India

The vibrant Coppersmith Barbet can be seen in banyan trees. Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan/Conservation India

Bird watching becomes more fascinating as we start identifying birds around our locality. The more we observe birds, the more we learn about their habitat, behaviour and their role in the environment.

Here is a start-up kit for bird watching:

Field Guide: A must in the bird watcher’s kit. It contains information on different birds, with appropriate illustrations to aid identification of species. The classic, Book of Indian Birds by Salim Ali is an ideal choice.

Pair of binoculars: While there are a few species that we can spot with naked eye, a lot of them are seen distantly or in low light. Devices like binoculars help in identifying the bird correctly.

A field notebook and pen: It is important to note down information such as the details of the bird’s appearance, location, time, season and other interesting points.

Proper research and planning: Know the birds in the area you are visiting, the habitats they occupy and the time of the day they prefer to be active. Websites like provide authentic information.

Do not disturb: Handling bird’s eggs or their young offspring will lead to undesired consequences like abandonment of the nest or young ones by the birds.

Blend in: Bird watchers should be extremely quiet and wear dull, dead leaf or dull green coloured clothing to increase their chances of blending with the background.

This article is written with inputs from Dr. V. Santharam, an avid birdwatcher and Head of Rishi Valley Institute of Bird Studies and Natural History and Shekar Dattatri, renowned wildlife filmmaker and conservationist.

(The author is an award-winning nature photographer and co-founder of the Youth for Conservation. In this monthly column he talks about his passion for nature, photography and conservation.)

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