Start someone bird watching


By Paul Baicich

Birding Community E-bulletin


February is a perfect time to introduce new people to birds. Some folks think that spring migration – say, May – is the ideal time, but this is probably a mistake. Indeed, birds in migration are wonderful – in full color and song – but the experience can be too overwhelming, a veritable bird overload. Too much in the way of birds – or of any new experience – can actually discourage people, creating the perception that there is simply too much to learn!

This month is ideal for a modest and digestible introduction to birds. Winter birds are stable, relatively limited, and often wonderfully accessible. Take wintering waterfowl, or a popular staked-out (but non-harassed) Snowy Owl. It’s the right time to bring along a neighbor or friend – who may already be curious because of a backyard feeder – for a short and simple birding trip.

This opportunity also conveniently overlaps with the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), 13-16 February. This effort is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Tens of thousands of volunteers – of all ages and birding skill levels – will count birds in backyards, local parks, refuges, and wherever they happen to be. This free, family-friendly, and neighbor-friendly activity is an ideal introductory “citizen-science” effort involving bird discovery. Visit the GBBC website to explore the opportunities:

This year, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is incorporating Pledge to Fledge, originally launched by the Global Birding Initiative, into the GBBC:

All these opportunities combine to make February the time to invite some new people – family, friends, co-workers, or acquaintances – to join in a bird search and introduce them to the joy of watching and studying wild birds.