A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

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A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking? How do you enjoy bird watching while camping or hiking? For many people, this is a question that has never crossed their minds. If you are one of these people, then it is time to start thinking about how to make the most of your next campsite stay!

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

This guide will walk you through some tips and tricks for bird watching from the comfort of your tent or cabin – no matter what kind of environment you’re in.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Bird watching is an enlightening experience. It is a great excuse to spend more time outdoors, learning intricate details about nature. It is also a healthy activity, especially for people who are curious about everything they see in nature. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning while camping in the woods?

The peace, sights, and sounds make you much aware (and more appreciative) of your environment. You get to notice more animals, insects, flowers, fruits, and trees as you watch the birds. This is a sport that can take you across the world, as you enjoy camping, identifying, and possibly discovering new bird species in different locations.

Here are a few ideas on how you can get started with bird watching while camping or hiking in the US.

Equipment for Bird Watching

Luckily, not much equipment is needed when starting bird-watching as a hobby. You will need a good pair of binoculars though, and probably a notebook to jot down what you see. Make sure the binoculars are powerful enough for the task, as you may want to closely inspect the birds’ behavior without frightening them away by being too close to them.

Note down everything you see; color, beak size and type (crooked, straight, etc.), bird size, type of nest, nest material, bird sounds (you may record the chirping if you want to analyze this to recognize the bird later), movement, what the bird feeds on and any other relevant information that will help you identify the bird later.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Bird Identification Apps

There are numerous mobile phone applications you can download to help you identify what type of bird you see. A mobile application such as iBird Pro Guide to Birds contains a wide collection of local and exotic birds. It is a great guide to help you identify the kind of birds you come across while hiking or camping.

You will get a detailed history of the bird you see, including its characteristics, behavior in its natural environment, migration patterns, and other important information. It also contains field guides and trails you should explore if you are an avid bird watcher in the US. There are many customized applications you can download, depending on where you are doing your bird-watching activity on the continent.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking: Guide books

When visiting a state or national park for a camping adventure, be sure to pick up a guidebook as it gives you detailed information on how you can enjoy bird watching and other leisure activities inside that park. You can find these guide books online, in libraries, or at the park centers.

These guide books will offer you the best trails to explore, what kind of birds you should keep an eye out for, or instructions on what to do and what to avoid when enjoying bird watching in a specific location.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Choosing the best location

How do you know where to go to find the birds you want to see? Not all locations are ideal for a bird-watching escapade whilst others are simply a bird watcher’s paradise. Figure out which is the best location to explore so that you can have a more fulfilling bird-watching experience. You can use online resources such as to figure out which are the best campgrounds to visit in the country and the attractions you can expect to find in these places.

A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking: Bird watching group

As a real bird-watching lover, you will always be on the lookout for the next adventure. You will always be on the hunt for the most exotic and rare species. The best way to learn about these species and how to find them would be to join a bird watching group online or locally in your community.

Bird lovers share a lot of experiences of their adventure. They love exploring new grounds, identifying new species, and sharing tips and hacks on how to enjoy the experiences better. 


Bird watching is an activity that will test your patience and persistence limits. You can wait for hours (sometimes for days) before you spot a specific bird species. Some of the most avid bird watchers spend weeks researching a particular species.

Others have been known to follow certain bird species as they migrate so that they can document the bird’s life. You may visit a state park that has guide books on the kind of birds to expect but you may not be guaranteed that you will see these birds that day.

Some bird species (The Atlantic Puffin and California condor for instance) are rarely spotted. The puffin loves to live in the sea and comes to breed on rocky islands during the summer. Spotting the bird is an ecstatic moment for many bird lovers but it requires patience and persistence.

A Beginner's Guide to Bird Watching While Camping or Hiking

Bird watcher’s code

There are rules in every campground you visit and most of these rules have been put in place to protect nature and the environment. Sometimes it can be easy to get carried away when bird watching. If you come across a bird’s nest, do not touch or tamper with the bird’s environment.

Remember that this is their haven. Do not feed the bird’s chicks you may find in these nests. Some birds may abandon their natural habitat if they feel that someone tampered with their environment. 

Try as much as possible not to come too close to their nests. The American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics is a detailed tool to help you understand what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable when watching birds within the country. For instance, if you record bird songs, do not play them close to the nests as they will disrupt the birds from feeding their chicks.

Time for bird watching

To spot a rare bird species, sometimes it all comes down to good timing and sheer luck. Some birds rise early in the morning to go about their escapades. If you want to spot these birds, you would have to rise early as well. Others (like owls) prefer being active at dusk.

Do not forget to check your local outdoors. Sometimes the birds you are yearning to see might be nestled right there in your backyard or local woodlands. If you want to attract birds to your backyard, install feeders and create a good environment for their visit.

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