CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Longtailed Shrike Manila Philippines

A Guide To Bird Watching Around The World

CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Longtailed Shrike Manila Philippines

Summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere and while traditional summer activities like travel, adventure and sports might not be back to the pre-pandemic levels, people are still itching to get back to some sense of normalcy in their lives by trying to spend time outdoors. While spending time outdoors responsibly might mean different things around the world, the reality of staying close to home is something most of us can relate to as a way to being safe. One activity that seems to be gaining a lot of popularity around the world is birding. If you’re curious about nature and want to learn more about what’s around you, birding is a great skill and a fun hobby.

As you start to take note of the birds around you, you may find yourself more perceptive of other things. You may notice sounds you previously overlooked. You start to notice small details in your surroundings, like individual trees, insects, fruits, and flowers. You may also find yourself more in tune with the passing of the seasons.

Birding can be a gateway into recognizing and appreciating a wider world that was there all along. And the best part is that it can even be done right in your own backyard without the need for fancy equipment.

People gravitate towards birding for a variety of reasons

  • Birding is relatively low-cost. After an initial investment on a pair of binoculars, the only costs are what you spend on travel and entrance fees to outdoor spaces should you choose to travel for birding. Of course, you might also want to buy an ID guide to identify birds.
  • Birding can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s a hobby you can do in your back yard or take with you around the world.
  • It can be very rewarding to see something new, to be able to name what you see, and to make discoveries.
  • Birding can also be a social activity that can be shared with friends and family while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Here is a look at some birding guidelines and tips from around the world.

Birding in the Philippines

Camille King, a photographer from the Philippines, is an avid birding enthusiast who recently got into birding. She shares her tips, strategies and gear she uses to get some incredible bird photos right from her backyard in a densely populated urban area in Manila.

From Camille,

I got into photography 8 years ago to take photos of my daughter who was four years old, then, to document celebrations, milestones, travel and our everyday with photographs. Living in Metro Manila (Philippines), an urban jungle, I never had in interest in photographing birds or wildlife. I thought that the only bird species in Metro Manila is the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (more commonly known as the Maya) seen all around the metro. That is, until the Covid-19 pandemic happened. CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Longtailed Shrike Manila PhilippinesThe Philippine Government declared Community Quarantine (also known as stay-at-home orders, shelter-in-place) to curb the spread of Covid-19 on March 15. Being home the whole day, and every day, I noticed a lot of different birds in my garden. At the same time, a neighbor, who is a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and a photographer, hosted an online workshop about birdwatching in our community and how to maintain it as a sanctuary for birds due to a lot of trees and plants. He shared that there are 39 resident species in our subdivision. There are more during the months of September to April when migrant birds from other countries (East Asian countries, Russia, New Zealand, Australia) seek refuge in the Philippines during the winter months. Our country has 241 endemic birds, ranked third in the world.

I invested in a telephoto zoom lens to capture images of the birds. So far, I identified and photographed twenty.CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Olive Backed Sunbird Manila Philippines CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Olive Backed Sunbird Manila PhilippinesSharing some of the things I learned one month into this birdwatching journey.

Before heading out birding:

  • Wear comfortable and cool clothing at least in my part of the world where it is hot and humid the whole year round
  • Wear neutral or earth toned clothing to blend in with the environment
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Apply anti-mosquito spray to avoid being bitten by dengue-carrying mosquitos (it is common here)
  • Apply sunblock
  • Wear a face mask as it is required in public spaces here in the Philippines due to Covid-19
  • Use gear like cameras, binoculars or even a journal to document all that you see

Skills for an effective birding outing:

  • Listen and actively hear bird calls/tweets/chirps means birds are around. I am already familiar with the tweets and I know which birds are around just by the sounds they make
  • Observe which trees, plants the birds like to perch on.
  • Observe what time birds are active
  • Observe environment conditions – windy, rainy, sunny, cloudy and which condition they are most active
  • Based on the above observations, pick a spot to birdwatch to increase chances of finding birds
  • Bird watching is not instant gratification. I will wait in my chosen spot for a minimum of 15 minutes then move to another spot if I am not successful
  • Be familiar with camera settings and be quick in adjusting exposure and focus. I like to adjust settings in advance for the current light conditions so I don’t have to fiddle around too much I spot a bird
  • Stabilizing camera and lens is important. Lean against something and keep arms to sides for less shaky images.
  • Move slowly and quietly when approaching to photograph a bird
  • I use a bird app to identify birds. I use Merlin ID. Load the image of the bird in the app, input the location and the app will come up with suggested bird species. I still compare these to other images of birds in the same area in to verify that it is the correct species
  • Join a local birdwatching group to join to share images with
  • Go out and look for the birds
  • Set-up a bird bath in garden and plant trees and plants to attract them
  • I prefer not to set-up a feeder as I am afraid I may feed them the wrong food and poison them
  • Watch from inside the house, from windows
  • Take a class on birdwatching and photography

CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Pied Triller Manila PhilippinesBird/wildlife photography gives me a natural high specially when I capture something new or beautiful. I am so glad I discovered this photography genre. I look forward to photographing more species when it is safe to travel locally and internationally.

{Words and Photos by Camille King; Website: Camille King Photography ; Instagram: @hellobirdieph }

Birding watching in North America

Jessica Nelson is a photographer based out of central Maryland. Getting her start as a kid in her father’s dark room, she now dabbles in lots of photography but her real passion lies in wildlife and nature. She is drawn to all living things big and small and strives to capture much of our natural world. She shares some of her birding tips from her adventures.CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Rose Breasted Grosbeak North AmericaFrom Jessica,

Birds are everywhere. Even when you don’t think there are any around, you are probably just not looking hard enough. Being a good birder, in my opinion, takes a lot of observation and a ton of patience. However, it also takes some good resources. It is nearly impossible to know every bird species, their coloring, songs because there are just too many. But having good resources at your fingertips, like field guides or phone apps definitely gives  you an edge on finding the birds you want to find and being able to capture them.CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Black and White Warbler North America

For a successful birding excursion

  • Learning to recognize the birds that come visit and their habits, as well as what attracts them to your yard, will help you learn their behaviors and ultimately learn how to spot them better.
  • Birding provides a connection to the outside world and personally, I love the photograph the animals that live in my woods.
  • Birding takes lots of patience and observation. You need to learn the birds and animals that live around you to better photograph them.
  • Birding apps like Merlin and eBird and a birding guide like the North American bird reference book that I own really help me identify and look for specific birds I want to document when I am home.

CulturallyOurs A Guide To Birding 101 Black and White Warbler North America{Words and photos by Jessica Nelson; Website: Gaggle Photography ; Instagram: @gagglephotog }

Bird Watching in India

Pratik Sawant is a photographer from India and while he much prefers photographing wildlife like tigers in India’s incredible national parks, he is also an avid birder and shares some tips that have helped him through the years while birding in India.CulturallyOurs Birding 101 Tips From IndiaFrom Pratik,

If asked to name commonly seen birds, you will hear only about the crows, sparrow, and the omnipresent Pigeons. Some people might even remember the Myna and the Parrots. But if one starts observing the neighborhood and nearby parks, we would be surprised by the variety in the Avian world. At any time during the day, if you look out from your windows or the balcony, you are likely to see some birds flying, just that you need to have an eye for them. If you are up early and decide to take a slow walk at the sunrise hour, you will hear the singing birds and with little more observation, you would also start seeing them. The Sunbirds, Mynas, Tailorbirds, Prinias, Robins, Fantails, and there are many more. As the day progresses, the Kites will be visible circling in the air (sometimes perched on the terrace walls as well).CulturallyOurs Birding 101 Tips From India But all this will happen provided you develop little interest in it. The chirping/singing birds start even before the Sun breaks out. In the summer months, you can hear the nice songs of the Asian Koel. We hear it because we are familiar with it, but in reality, many other birds start their calls early morning. In fact, in the old days, our ancestors used to wake up with a loud call of the domestic bird (yes, the Fowl or chicken, is also a bird).CulturallyOurs Birding 101 Tips From India

Why is bird watching a great idea?

This hobby of watching/observing the birds – we call it “Birding” – will give you excellent results.

  • It can work as your stress-buster.
  • It is not very expensive! You don’t need to buy any expensive cameras.
  • You don’t need to travel far. Just visit neighboring parks or even city areas that have some fruiting trees.
  • Birds are very shy, and they will not be very comfortable being very close to humans. So observe them quietly, without making loud conversation.
  • It is advisable to wear dull colored clothing (with bright colors you would be easily visible to the birds from distance and they will avoid coming near).
  • Once you get hooked on to this hobby, you may want to buy a reference book (to refer and identify a new bird) and a binocular (so that you can observe the bird activity from distance, without disturbing them).

So when are you coming along for birding?

{Words and photos by Pratik Sawant; Instagram: @sawpratik15 }

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Bird Watching Tips From Around The World By CulturallyOurs

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Leave your comments below

  1. Deepak v bhoir says:

    Its really great feeling to be close to nature . It is important to understand the coexistence of animals,birds the trees etc to balance the nature.