What’s It Like Being a Birdwatcher


Common Yellowthroat

What is it like birding with a seasoned group of birdwatchers? I feel a bit like a fish out of water.

The day starts out early at 6:30am with a drive past Niagara Falls factories on my travels to Buffalo.


The beginning of our hike is joined by a few cloven friends.


This is some of the BOS members below.


Not everything we see is a bird.


The old Buffalo grain elevators are seen along the trail.


Some birds are just barely seen without binoculars, like this Black-throated Green Warbler.


Black-throated Green Warbler

Some birds are just too far away like this kingfisher.


Belted Kingfisher

It is actually hard to find birds in the cover of high trees, but the group hits on an area flush with birds flying from tree to tree.


Yellow Rumped Warbler

Out comes the binoculars to see these are not your everyday backyard birds. Sure there are Chickadees in the mixed flock, and their call is what alerts birdwatchers to more species of birds that can be found.

I watch the group as they hunt out birds to spot. One of them finds an interesting bird and in unison, all the binoculars are trained on the subject. It is a little funny as they all huddle in a group and binoculars sway back and forth following a bird. I am not quick enough yet to locate most birds. It takes practice and patience.


They group together so as to not scare away the birds. I was told not go ahead of the group. So being a “photographer” I started back-tracking the path to see what I could find.

I found more birds by quietly waiting, rather than moving constantly. In fact, the birdwatchers go to an area and stay quiet for quite a while. They scan the area and wait. So I did what I saw them do.

Another thing they do is help those that have not found the bird in question. They instruct by saying, “See that fallen tree on a 45° angle? Well go up from there to the left, just below that large leafy branch.”

You would think this ambiguous direction is not helpful, yet it is. They told me how to see this hawk so far in the distance. I was instructed to locate it with my binoculars first. When I did, only then could I use the camera to find it.


Lucky for me, the young Red-tailed Hawk was eating his dinner and very content to stay put. The little birds never sit for long it seems. By the time I see them in the binoculars, they are gone. It is a challenge if one wants to take photos.


Of course, I had no problem capturing insects, even literally, or other larger critters.


When out on my own photographing birds, I kinda take what I get. Going with them opens up to such variety and the cool thing is, they have a plan to find certain birds and they always do.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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19 Responses to What’s It Like Being a Birdwatcher

  1. barbie says:

    I am a keen birdwatcher too and love your photos. Thanks for sharing and I could feel a slight nip in the air!

  2. connie661 says:

    Great shots. Your patience paid off.

  3. This new group is a great extension of your already avid interest in animals and birds in particular. You have learned a lot already. Happy spotting.

  4. Hope says:

    I would feel that way, too. Great shot!

  5. Eulalia says:

    I love your story… 🙂 Full of details-….

    Wonderful snake 🙂

  6. Because of you, I am learning to appreciate more and more birdwatching!
    Happy Friday, Donna!
    🙂 xxxx

  7. That snake is BIG – loving the bird shots:) Happy Weekend!

  8. You did get some really good shots. I can’t believe the dragonfly landed right on that hand and that you got such a good photo of it. Blessings, Natalie

  9. Your story reminds me of when the birders came to our backyard for the varied thrush. They would stand along the fence, and often they would move their binoculars almost in unison, like synchronized swimmers.

  10. I’m not that great at identifying birds but really want to learn. It is funny how bird watchers flock together and seem to mimic some of the same behaviors they come to observe.

  11. stone says:

    Pretty spectacular bird shots… My birds are pretty seriously camera shy… and I don’t get many bird pics to post…
    Re snakes…
    I ‘m not really a fan of water snakes, but I love garden snakes… click my picture to see the lengths I went to for one of my babies…

  12. A.M.B. says:

    That’s a huge snake! Do you know what type it is? Bird watching has made me much more aware of all of the critters that share my environment with me. It’s such a fun and educational activity.

  13. Love that sweet Yellow Rumped Warbler, Donna, never having seen one. You did a great job for a newbie in the group! P.x

  14. acuriousgal says:

    Beautiful pics!!!! Great story too!!

  15. b-a-g says:

    Your trip reminded me of my walks with the ramblers. I don’t think they are keen on photographers clicking away though, so I try not to do it too often. Great shot with the suset behind the factories.

  16. P.E.A.C.E. says:

    Thanks for this excellent share about ‘what it’s like’ as I’m planning on joining a birding group in my area. I smile at the thought of them ‘grouping together’ as it reminds me of a herd, but of course it makes perfect sense. I enjoy all your photos and especially that sweet Nuthatch just before the hawk. The Warblers are gorgeous and would be such a delight to hear. Up here in my Zone 3 part of the world I get pretty excited when Song and White-Capped Sparrows travel through, and all year long I give thanks for Chickadees, Nuthatches, Flickers, and Blue Jays (although those last three aren’t necessarily melodious, but still delightful).

    • Loved your pictures and your viewpoint on going on a birding trip. I think I became a birder at about 11, and now, at 71, one of my favorite things to do is to lead people on bird tours or point them to birds. This is one of my jobs as a volunteer at National Wildlife Refuges.

      A big national event is happening October 12 -13. It is called a Big Sit and people come to hang out in a 17 foot circle and watch for birds for as much of a 24 hour period as they can mange. I’m organizing my first one up here in Montana at the a little refuge called Ninepipe, but they are going on all over the world. Google it to see if there is one in your area. It is a very different way to bird and much more social than walking quietly to look for birds.

      Heck, come on over to Montana and join mine. I’m cooking elk and vegetarian chilli for all the registrants. We’re the National Bison Range. But many other refuges are sponsoring the Big Sit, as well as birding clubs and individuals.

      And I believe you have two pictures – the first and the one of the bird with its head cocked that are actually of a juvinile blue-headed vireo. Very cute pictures.

  17. You caught so many images of gorgeous birds.

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