Getting Started with Birding and Bird Watching in Illinois

Are you interested in learning more about birds and getting started with birding and bird watching? If you live in Illinois, you’re in luck! With over 400 species of birds to observe and various habitats to explore, Illinois is a great place to begin your birding journey. Here are some tips to help you get started.

First, you’ll need the right equipment. A good pair of binoculars is essential for birding, as it allows you to see birds from a distance without disturbing them. Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab is a great field guide app to help you identify the different species of birds you see, and it even lets you catalog all the birds you’ve seen and where.

Next, it’s time to find a good birding spot. Illinois has many great places to go birding, including state parks, nature preserves, and wildlife refuges. Some popular birding spots in Illinois include the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, the Nachusa Grasslands in Franklin Grove, and the Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in Havana. You can also stay close to home and find great gems like Busse Woods, Herrick Lake, and the Lincoln Marsh.

Once you’ve found a good spot, it’s time to start looking for birds. Birds can be active at any time, but the best times to go birding are early morning and late afternoon when birds are most active. Bring your binoculars and field guide, and slowly scan the area for birds. Pay attention to the birds’ colors, patterns, and behaviors, and try to identify them using your field guide.

As you become more experienced at birding, you may want to join a local birding group or club. DuPage Birding Club and Illinois Audubon Society are great groups to consider. These organizations can provide valuable resources and support for beginning birders, including field trips, workshops, and bird counts. You can also participate in citizen science programs, which allow you to contribute your observations to scientific research.

Birding and bird watching can be rewarding and enjoyable hobbies for people of all ages. In Illinois, you can find a wide variety of birds to observe, from colorful songbirds to majestic raptors. You can start your birding journey today with the right equipment, a good spot, and some practice!