Birding is a fun and educational hobby you can enjoy solo or with friends and family, both from the comfort of your home and out in nature. If you are interested in trying birding or are looking for some new resources, we can help.
Backyard Birding: Bird Feeding
If you'd like to start with backyard birding, you'll want to get a bird feeder. Think about if you want to attract a specific type of bird, or just any bird. You'll also want to decide if you want to feed the squirrels, because with bird food comes our furry-tailed friends. If not, you'll want a squirrel-proof feeder. There are many different types of feeders to choose from, from trays to tubes.
- Hopper feeders: The seed comes out through the bottom and the birds can hop on and sit while eating. Birds attracted include: house finches, grackles, jays, red-winged blackbirds, chickadees.
- Platform feeders: These are just a platform and can be mounted to decks or placed close to the ground. Birds attracted include: house finches, jays, doves, sparrows.
- Tube feeders: These come in many sizes and have different holes with perches for birds to feed from. Birds attracted include: house finches, chickadees, goldfinches.
- Thistle feeders: These have tiny openings for dispensing the tiny thistle seed. Birds attracted include: house finches, goldfinches, pine siskins.
- Suet feeders: Wire cages that hold suet cakes, a high-protein food. Birds attracted include: chickadees, jays, starlings, nuthatches, wrens, bluebirds.
- Window feeders: Small plastic feeders that attach to your window with suction cups. Birds attracted include: finches, chickadees, sparrows.
Make sure your feeder is in a location that is safe from predators and where birds will feel safe, so avoid open and noisy areas. Start with a popular bird seed like black oil sunflower seeds or a seed mix. Make sure to keep your feeder clean and dispose of old and soiled bird food.
Water! Don't forget that water is important for the survival of birds, especially in the summer and winter. You can put up a bird bath, or even just a shallow dish, that will also help attract birds to your yard.
To dive deeper into attracting birds and turning your backyard into a bird paradise, here are some resources:
Backyard Birding: Bird Houses
The next step in attracting birds to your backyard is to provide them with a place to nest. Once you've decided which birds you want to attract by feeding them, decide if you can provide them with an appropriate nesting box. Bird houses can be bought or built. If you decide you'd like to build your own bird house, NestWatch, opens a new window by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an excellent resource.
You can also learn more about bird habitats with these books:
Birdwatching is fun, but actually identifying the birds you're watching might be a bit of a challenge. To get started, this article, opens a new window helps you identify some of the most common birds you'll see in your yard. One of the great things about the Denver area is we have the opportunity to see many different species of birds if you are willing to travel just a little. Head to the mountains and you will spot birds you don't see in the city, like the beautiful steller's jay. Even just checking out some of our state parks and refuges will give you the opportunity to see a variety of birds, including birds of prey like the bald eagle.
You can start observing birds with your naked eye, but you might enjoy it a little more if you have the option of zooming in on a bird with a pair of binoculars. Get help with bird identification with this online bird guide, opens a new window and apps like the eBird, opens a new window app from Audubon and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology or Merlin Bird ID, opens a new window from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
You can also get help identifying birds with these books:
Just for Fun
Denver Audubon, opens a new window has great resources, programs and events for all ages. You can take bird watching classes and go on field trips among many other things.
Great Backyard Bird Count, opens a new window takes place in February each year. This is a free event for bird watchers of all ages, and all over the world, to participate in by counting birds and reporting back. In 2019, participants counted over 6,000 species of birds.
Monte Vista Crane Festival, opens a new window March 6-8, 2020. It's estimated over 20,000 sandhill cranes migrate biannually through the San Luis Valley, with peaks in mid-March and mid-October.
How Do Birds Survive the Winter, opens a new window: learn about how birds that don't fly south survive the cold winter.
Read BirdWatching magazine for free online with your library card.
Thanks for getting birdy with us, what are your favorite birding tips or your favorite place to bird watch?