Very Novice Bird Watching




About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.

This Instructable was inspired by the Kiteman Bird Challenge. I wanted to enter using pictures I visualized taking from my yard  and pictures I have taken in the past. I titled this Very Novice because I knew nothing in the beginning about this adventure but I learned a lot about trying to take pictures of wild life. I thought it would be a piece of cake. So follow through and you will see what I have learned and read about a couple of experiences I had.

Step 1: First Day

My first day of bird watching was a very interesting day. I tried to take a lot of pictures but it was fairly uneventful. Did I see any birds? I sure did! I saw a humming bird at my kitchen window and ran for my camera. Tooooo late. Bird was gone before I got back. I found evidence of birds and even discovered a perfect peep hole to spy on them!  I even spotted a bird nest! I was outside quietly walking to take a picture of one dove. Too late, then I turned around and 2 flew from the rooftop just above my head! Too fast! My camera does not snap to take the picture when I hit the button. It has a delay and that is why I missed out so often. 

Lesson number 1.

When bird watching make sure your camera is fully charged and hanging around your neck ready to take a picture when needed. 

Step 2: Day 2

​Day 2 was better but it sure was not what I had envisioned! Taking good quality pictures of birds is very challenging! Now remember I have no bird watching experience and went into this cold. I did learn birds are most active during the early morning hours and late in the afternoon. Today, very early in the morning,  I heard grackle birds making quite a fuss! A couple of them were flying and diving and making a noise like they were upset about something. Unfortunately I got no pictures of this ordeal and never figured out what the fuss was all about.  They were flying between our house and the neighbors house back and forth for about five minutes. It was humorous even though I did not get any pictures of it. 
Grackles are messy birds and most people do not like them. My husband will not leave the dog dish out during the day because the grackles eat the dog food. They dip the dog food into the water dish to soften it and they teach their young to do it also.  

videos of grackles: and here: and here are swarms of them:  and here are an amazing  swarm of starlings a must see video :

Step 3: Day 2 Late Afternoon

By late afternoon on day 2 of my bird watching experience I was disappointed! I did not get any pictures that would make good news even on Instructables! But you have to give me credit for trying so hard. Here are a few of the pictures that I did get. 

Step 4: Day 2 Evening

It was getting late and the birds were roosting. I found a couple of birds roosting in the elm tree. I decided it was too late to capture any great pictures so I decided to do a little moonlight bird watching. I wanted to see if these 2 birds were going to roost in the same spot all night. I took pictures up to 3 am and they did not move to a different limb as the pictures will show. Every-time I took their pictures they opened their eyes as if to say " Get that light out of our eyes or we will poop on your head! " No . . . .  they didn't but I was beginning to worry about it. 

Step 5: Middle of the Night

The birds were roosting and I was bored and disappointed that I did not see any really pretty birds like a Cardinal, Blue Jay, Mocking bird, or I would have been happy with a sparrow! I decided to go to utube and see if anyone filmed any good birds there. This was truly a highlight of my night! I learned a person can hand feed a an Alaskan Hummingbird! I saw all kinds of birds. A cat and and owl that were best friends! I know a lot of you do not like to watch videos but these are really good. They are short also. Here are links,  all worth watching.

Hand feeding an Alaskan Humming bird:

Owlbert the cutest baby owl:

Worlds most distinctive bird:

Holding a wounded Cardinal:

Cat and owl best friends:

A blue jay:

Northern Cardinal Singing just watch a minute or two:

A Male Baltimore Oriole:

Eastern Meadowlark Singing:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak:

Red-winged Blackbird:

One of my faves frontal courtship of a tragopan satyra:

Dancing bird very funny:

Very interesting Curassos:

Barred Owl Video:

Mama feeding her babies at Walmart:

Beautiful cardinal:

Baby Cardinals growing:

Baby cardinal hatching:

Blue robin eggs hatching:

Swans hatching:

Documentary about a rare duck this one is long:


Step 6: Day 3

By day 3 I came to the decision that birding was a lot like fishing or catching flies. You can see the fish and the flies until you reach for the fishing pole or fly swatter! Birds are the same way when you try to catch their picture! Today I managed to get a few more pictures but nothing that my mind's eye wanted to capture!  I had 4 doves at the bird bath and did not get a picture of it. I saw a sparrow and did not get a picture of that either. 

Step 7: Day 3 Late Afternoon

By late afternoon on the 3RD day I still did not capture a nice picture of a bird in flight. If you look closely at a small speck somewhat like a piece of pepper that would be a bird I tried to get in flight. I did capture some nice clouds though. All of the pictures I got were either Doves or Grackles. Grackles are the most fun because they strut a lot and have a lot of personality. They are quite aggressive though. 

Step 8: Grackles

In November 2010 we spent three months at a cabin in Waco, Texas. Well, it was not exactly a cabin but a house we started building for our son while he went to Baylor for his PHD. Anyway we had gone into Waco and after we finished shopping at Walmart, this is what we saw outside. I had never seen anything like it before. I just so happened to have my camera and took pictures. This happens every year in Waco. As we left Walmart and drove down town the roofs were lined with birds everywhere. I wished this contest had been in late October or November! I imagine there would have been a lot of entries with beautiful pictures and stories to tell. Here is a video I found about grakles in Austin, Tx:

Step 9: Babies

I was visiting my sister in Texas a few years ago and on her front porch was a wrens nest. I tried to take a picture of them and this is what I got. I always enjoy visiting her place because she lives in the country and there is always something to see and experience there. She has guineas that roam as they choose.  She has a few birdhouses that my mom no doubt made. I even found a dragon fly! 

My girlfriend lives out in the country and every year wrens build a nest on her front porch. She always buys a nice large flower basket and hangs it under their nest so if a baby falls it has a chance to live. I don't think it has happened but if it did;  I  think it is quite possible for a bird to pick her baby up with her beak and put the little bird back into the nest, if not at least she could give it food and water until it could fly away. 

Step 10: Called My Son

I called my son and was telling him about my birding experience and how I did not capture the pictures that I had envisioned. He told me that his wife took some awesome pictures that I could share in this Instructable. I learned that she was in the right place at the right time,  using the right camera AND she takes a lot better pictures than I do! Here are her beautiful pictures, kind of like the ones I had planned on taking. 

Step 11: Bitter Lakes

Bitter Lakes is the place to be in the fall if you are a bird watcher! Here is the link:

The first picture is a picture I took of my monitor of the Bitter Lakes website . The other pictures were taken about 7 or 8 miles from Bitter Lakes at the Bottomless Lakes. They look very much alike because the pictures I took were at the Pecos river. 


Step 12: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

The past few days were enjoyable even though I did not get fantastic pictures. This Instructable was fun to create and in the future I would like to plan bird watching for the next contest. I hope to have a lot more pictures as well as more experience.

When we move sometime this winter I plan to plant shrubs, trees, and flowers that will attract different birds. I am going to have the dogs in an area where birds can feel safe. I will replenish the feeders everyday. I will have several bird baths available as well as water. I will take videos as well as pictures. I kind of wished I had taken videos for this contest but I was afraid people would not watch them. I will make a lot of bird houses large and small. I will buy a tripod!  Watching birds requires a lot of patience and quick reflex! 

In closing I would like to thank our instructables company, sponsors, authors, readers, and members; for making this community a great success! Many hours and hard work has been put into making this place the best DIY on the Internet. Have fun and thanks for stopping by and hope you have fun birding!





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    21 Discussions


    I love to brighten someones day! I hope you have a lot more bright days ahead! Thanks for sharing.



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice job, shows there's always birding to be done, no matter where you are.

    As a point of interest, your doves look as though they are probably White Winged Doves.  Even an artistically poor photograph is useful as what is known as a "record shot", especially if you aren't certain about your identification in the field, or if there may be some dispute over a rarity.

    (I recently spotted a Slaty-backed gull here in SF.  Very rare in SF, and it was only the ability to spend time with my record shots and web searches that clinched the ID for me.)

    3 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    A comment from you is most appreciated. I worked very hard on this and was actually disappointed because the pictures were not so good. But as I began to put everything together I thought that I did a fairly good job presenting this Instructable. I did not know what birds my daughter-in-law took pictures of, but I am wondering if one was a crane of some sort. After reading your comments I am thinking it might be difficult to identify certain kinds of birds, because there are so many different varieties. Did you happen to get a picture of the Slaty-backed gull? I will have do do a search on it. I also see there is much to learn about bird watching. This experience has made me appreciate photographers who take amazing pictures of birds and animals because capturing that beautiful shot is almost impossible! I took well over 300 pictures for this Instructable. I did manage to get another picture of the dove today that was very good. The dove matched the description of the link you included. Thanks Mr K. for stopping by and sharing your comment! I hope your trip was more amazing than you expected!

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    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I don't have the picture handy (I need to sort through thousands of photos taken on four different cameras this last month!), but here's a link to the Bird Opus page.

    If you browse the gull section of any decent bird book (if you're American, I recommend one of Sibley's books - the field guides are large-pocket sized - or the Sibley app), you will see that field identification of many gulls is a major pain.  So many species are so similar, and some gulls form "ring species", which are worth a book to themselves!

    Cranes, though, are easy - all legs, bill, wide wings and BIG.  For you, most likely a Sandhill Crane.

    For any novice birder, I recommend:

    1. Get a decent bird book (or, these days, an app), and spend time browsing it between trips, to give you a mental collection of clues.  The Sibley app is good, because you can narrow it down by location, and it will play recordings of the songs as well.

    2. Get decent binoculars (in the UK, RSPB do a very nice pair for £50, but you get what you pay for - mine cost £300, my dad's cost £1200).

    3. Practice - get out in the field, or just on your commute to work, and make sure you can identify the common birds in your area, then the rare ones will stand out.

    4. Share - join a society like Audubon or RSPB, and get talking to experienced birders.  Most enjoy sharing their finds, and passing on their skills.

    (I ought to write this properly at some point...)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! Thanks for the comment! I have some binoculars. They are not expensive but they are packed up at least until the shop is built! I hope to have them out by fall so I can bird watch then! Binoculars are a lot like camera lens! My daughter just spent a few thousand bucks on some camera lens after a lot of research. She is very talented and can take amazing pictures. I am looking forward to seeing her again because she will teach me a lot about how to take incredible pictures that I really need to learn for Instructables. I know that you will write a fantastic article about bird watching when you can. I will look forward to reading it. I was thinking the other day I have not seen a roadrunner since I was a kid! They used to be a lot of them here and maybe they still are but I have not seen any since I have been back. I find the tall lanky birds are so funny! Life is beautiful isn't it? Thanks again for sharing! I almost forgot did you see this link :


    sunshiineM.C. Langer

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for stopping by to see what I have been up to! I loved that first picture also. It was an amazing experience! It reminded me of the movie Birds. It is an amazing world we live in! Have a great day!


    6 years ago on Step 12

    This was a fun read sunshiine. Thanks for taking us along on your birding adventure!

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Step 12

    So fun to think of you grabbing your camera and going birding, although it seems your best birding was done right at home. Our mom loved to watch birds and so it passes down to us as an enjoyable pass time for our old age.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh my it would have been so much more fun with you here! Remember her talking about the wreath she put on her front door and a bird decided to nest there? It is amazing how birds seem to know people who love them! Have a beautiful day!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sunshiine, as always, you are an inspiration to me and so many others.

    TY for sharing.

    it's always good reading about all you do...and some of it even I can do (if I get off my dead lazy butt long enough). lol