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You've purchased a pair of binoculars and have observed a dozen or more bird species in your backyard. Now what? Different types of birds will inhabit different types of habitat. If you want to enjoy waders like Green or Great Blue Herons and Virginia Rails, a nearby marsh is the best destination. Grassland and prairie birding will provide opportunities to see kingbirds, meadowlarks, and several species of sparrows. By exploring the various habitats within a short drive of your house, you may see 200 or more species of birds throughout the year.
When observing birds, it is important to consider the time of year. Habitats that seem vacant during the winter or summer will be bursting with birds during the apex of spring and fall migration. A wooded trail at a local park might reveal a feathered jewel like the Blackburnian Warbler among dozens of other types of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and other migratory birds. Some birds will be harder to find during the summer when they are busy taking care of young. If you're patient, you may catch a rare glimpse of a Wood Thrush bringing food back to an active nest.
Checking with a local Audubon Chapter is a good first step to finding birding destinations in your area. Many chapters offer seasonal field trips for beginning and advanced birders. They may also have maps for local natural areas and can provide you with directions for the best places to visit. A quick search on Google for "birding hotspots" will return many resources such as birding.com's Top 200 North American Birding Hotspots. Another good online resource is to sign on to eBird and check the list of frequently birded areas. EBird gives you the added advantage of being able to see lists of recently observed species.
Always feel free to contact Eagle Optics! Many members of our staff have attended birding festivals around the country and may have suggestions about the best birding in your state.
To find a binocular that will work in your new-found habitat, view our Staff Picks.