Maybe you’re fascinated by little birds you hear singing in the treetops when you leave your office after work, or the quail with her chicks running across the street just after the sunrise, or even the pigeons that steal your leftover breadcrumbs at the park. Whatever it may be, it’s the perfect time to strap on your boots and head outside to find some birds and walk off that weekend of Thanksgiving feasting.
Birding, the practice of observing birds, is not only fascinating for many–but is also a great way to get outside and enjoy your surroundings. We talked to Corey Lycopolus, senior education coordinator for the Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix, about the best ways to get your bird nerd on.
- The best time to go birding is just after sunrise.
"It’s typically best to go early in the morning, just after sunrise. The birds are waking up and getting ready to go out to look for food and things like that,” Lycopolus said.
If you’re busy, or sleeping, after dawn, he said the second best time is just before dusk when the birds are coming back to their nests. Midday is the worst time to go.
“Just like us when the sun is high in the sky, we want to take a nap or find some shade and the birds are doing the same,” Lycopolus explained.
- You don’t need special equipment.
While spotting scopes, big cameras and lenses can be nice, it’s not necessary when you go birding. You can start by looking at the birds in your backyard, from your porch or window.
In fact, you don’t need to be able to see birds to go birding at all.
“(Birding) is open to people with disabilities, you don’t need to be able to see to be able to bird,” Lycopolus said. “Because you can also hear them make noises and things like that with their songs and calls.”
- Not sure what bird it is? Look it up!
If you become curious about the plethora of birds you see on the daily, it might be time to invest in a bird app or guide. Whether it be a book or an app, you can find what suits you best.
- There are some great nature walks in the Valley to go birding.
The Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, located just outside downtown Phoenix, has multiple trails along the city’s effort to restore the natural habitat by the Salt River. The Tres Rios Wetlands is also a popular spot, with birds ranging from house sparrows to green herons.
Gilbert's Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, located at 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, is another great place for bird watching and some say it's the best in the East Valley.
- If you’re unsure on how to get started on your own, there are guided bird walks you can begin with at the Rio Salado Audubon Center, located at 3131 S. Central Ave. There are guided bird walks on the first, third and fourth Saturdays of each month, from October to April, at their habitat area.
To find out more information about the Rio Salado Audubon Center, visit riosalado.audubon.org.