CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Spring has officially sprung, and the weather is getting warmer by the week. If you’re wanting to spend more time outside or maybe you’re looking for a new low-cost hobby, birding could be worth a try because it’s something you can do literally anywhere at any time.

According to the National Park Service, There are only three things you need to get started:

  • A bird guide
  • Binoculars
  • A positive attitude

A bird ID card or bird guide like the Sibley Field Guide will help you familiarize yourself with common bird species in your area, and can sometimes be found in park visitor centers, online or in a smartphone app. The Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia says learning about local species is a great way to start as you can learn what common species sound like and you can begin to identify birds just by their calls.

Getting binoculars

Binoculars will greatly help you with identifying birds from far away. Binoculars each have specifications for their magnification and lens size. An example on the NPS website is a pair of binoculars that are 10×50. The 10 means they magnify an object 10 times its actual size. The 50 tells you the size of the lens. The bigger the lens, the more light it can gather which will give you a clearer image, especially in low light. Keep in mind that bigger lenses will mean a bigger and heavier binocular, but it’s completely up to you how big or small you want to go.

Use your ears!

Sometimes the best way to find a bird isn’t actually by seeing it, it’s by hearing it. Many birds are quite small, and you can get a better idea of where to look with your eyes if you use your ears first to determine their general location.

The many, MANY birdwatching apps

There are tons of great and free birding resources that you can have right on your phone that will help you identify birds and their calls, but here are a few of the most popular birdwatching apps:

  • eBird Mobile App will help you log your bird sightings and adds them to a database used by hundreds of thousands of birders across the world.
  • Merlin uses its “Bird ID Wizard” to give a list of possible matches by just answering three different questions. It can also be used to identify bird calls for you and can compare it to other calls in its database.
  • Audubon Bird Guide is a free digital guide to over 800 species of North American birds. Identify birds, log sightings, and even share pictures of the birds you come across with other app users.

Birdwatching tips from the National Park Service

  • Location, time of day, weather, and time of year can influence what types and numbers of birds you might observe.
  • Learn what birds live in your area as many are year-round residents. Identifying birds by sight and sound, and learning their eating, sleeping and living habits will let you recognize when something out of the ordinary is happening.
  • Avoid wearing white and try to stay quiet so birds are not scared off by your presence.
  • Be patient and take notes. Some birds don’t call out as much as others and will make themselves known after not being alerted by motion. Make a list of birds and where you saw them. What time was it? What were they doing? How many did you see? Some birders will even keep track of every species they’ve observed.