Birding basics

July 10, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 03:31 am IST

Don’t want to spend hours to catch a fleeting glimpse of the brilliant Kingfisher or to hear the cuckoo sing?Puja Pednekarsuggests websites that will make it easy to track down our feathered friends

Birding or birdwatching is a wonderful excuse to observe and reacquaint ourselves with nature. It can even be a great way to enjoy the monsoons. Wondering how to get started? You can learn all about birds and birdwatching online. Here’s our pick of websites and online birdwatching communities that will help you identify bird sighting hotspots, gear up and create your own catalogue. All you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open!

Project Beak

Project Beak is a web-based curriculum on bird education and awareness for kids studying in classes 5 to 8. It started out as an initiative of the Education Workgroup of the Nebraska Bird Partnership (NBP). Today, it covers birds from different parts of the world.

Why it’s fun:

Curriculum: It covers all you need to know about birds from habitats to threatened and endangered species. Each module contains tools that can be used by parents as well as teachers to assess children.

Gear Up: Once you are familiar with the types of birds, it’s time to go out and spot them yourself. So this section tells you when to go bird watching, how to choose the right pair of binoculars as well as what to do if you find an injured bird. It also explains how you can attract a variety of birds to your own backyard by using bird feeders and planting different types of trees.

What it teaches you

:** About different types of birds and the importance of conservation

** How to go about bird watching

** How to attract birds to your home or garden

Happy trails

This website is run by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a pan-India wildlife research organisation, which has been promoting the cause of nature conservation for the past 133 years.

Why it’s fun

** Nature trails: You can find information about upcoming walks and camps organised by the society. Their monsoon camps are popular.

** Courses: BNHS offers certificate courses on ornithology, the study of birds.

What it teaches you:

** Conservation programmes such as the flamingo programme in Sewri, Mumbai

** Ornithology

Map any species

eBird is the world’s largest citizen science project, with more than 100 million bird sightings contributed each year. Birders enter when, where, and how they went birding, and then fill out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing. It is managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a unit of Cornell University.

Why it’s fun

** Find birds: Dynamic maps available in this section help you locate hotspots for bird sightings around your location and anywhere in the world. The site claims to have maps for every species in the world, which are updated everytime a user shares a sighting.

** Share your sighting: Spotted a rare bird? You can share your sighting on the site. It will be added to the database to help map bird ranges. You can create a bird list, share photos or audio recordings, and explore the ones uploaded by other users.

What it teaches you:

** Listing birds

** Monitoring birds

** Bird habitats

Bird census

Bird Count India co-ordinates the Great Backyard Bird Count and the Campus Bird Count in India, conducted by students in schools, colleges and other campuses across the country every year.

Why it’s fun:

** Activities: Monthly challenges range from watching new birds, spotting rare species to writing reports. Workshops are held across India on birdwatching.

** Articles: Experts contribute articles, which are informative and insightful.

What it teaches you:

** Patch birding in your locality

** Observation

** Analysis

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