Birdwatching, birding, or amateur ornithology can be casual and unexpected enjoyment, as well as an ambitious pursuit to see the most unusual species.


A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. Chinese proverb
Parrot with lovely plumage

However, none of this equipment is essential if you simply want to observe birds with the naked eye and listen to their songs, and you can always take pictures or videos of birds that are not too timid around humans by using a cell phone.

On the site

The early bird is a well-known idiom. Birds are usually most active at sunrise.

Minimize sound and motions, to avoid disturbing the birds. Most birds see better than people do, and probably see you before you see them.

Stay safe

Many bird sanctuaries are in difficult terrain; wetlands, rocks or shorelines. Be sure to find safe ground, or a safe vessel.

Birds might be aggressive against intruders; see dangerous animals. Nearly all living animals have parasites on them; see pests.


Mandarin ducks in Lancashire, UK

You can always observe and listen to the birds that live in your home town or wherever you are visiting. Many birds live in urban and semi-urban environments, including some that sing exquisite songs, such as the Eurasian blackbird, which has a wide range that includes the largest cities in Northern Europe and sings for several months of spring and summer, during its mating season. Robins also sing very pretty and varied songs, though not to the degree that Eurasian blackbirds do, and they are common in many US cities including New York City, particularly in parks. And even protected species are not always hard to spot; for example, if you are visiting the coast of California, you are likely to see pelicans and other large sea birds that are not at all reticent to be around people.

Birds such as pigeons and sparrows might prefer cities; however, many people regard them as pests, rather than living attractions.

Migratory birds can often be seen in great numbers where they wait for good weather to cross large bodies of water, or wait out a prolonged winter at higher latitudes. Capes stretching out into the water and wetlands in the vicinity are often good places to look for migrating birds. These places are usually well-known by local birders and not hard to find information on. Sometimes there is infrastructure, such as bird towers.

Quite often, merely a trip to a decent-sized urban park with a lot of foliage is sufficient to observe many migratory birds in season. However, for advanced birders, some of the bird sanctuaries and habitats below can be a special experience.


See also African flora and fauna.


Indian Subcontinent

East Asia

Egrets, Olango Island

North America


Distant islands


See also: Animal ethics, Ecotourism

The leave-no-trace principle is important for birdwatching. Travellers can be tempted to gather remnants such as egg shells or feathers; there are however risks to disturb the bird's natural lives. Also, bird flu can be transmitted by contact with dead birds or the wastes of live ones; the risk is small in most areas, but best avoided in any.

See also

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