Be a Casual Birdwatcher

Blue bird on a branch

A blue bird on a branch

Fall is a great time of year to be outside and enjoy the park-like setting of Erie Station Village. If you take a walk along the pond or the meadow, chances are you’ll come across some of the many birds and critters we share our neighborhood with. One of the best ways to deepen your connection to nature and take a break from the stresses of life is birdwatching. Before you stop reading, being a birdwatcher doesn’t necessarily mean wearing one of those khaki vests, carrying giant binoculars, and searching for some rare species. It can be as simple as sitting quietly and observing the goings on and sounds of birds.

If you do this, you’ll probably find that that you’ll want to know more about the beautiful creatures you hear and see. The good news is, you can easily do that with your smartphone and one of the many free apps for bird identification.

The app we recommend most is Merlin Bird ID from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s completely free (no in-app purchases) and very simple to use. To identify a bird, just answer 5 questions (size, color, etc.) and you’ll be shown some possible options. You’ll also be able to listen to the sound each makes to help narrow your options. And if you’re able to get close enough to snap a photo of the bird, you can upload it and the app will let you know what kind of bird it is. Another free app you might enjoy is the Audubon Bird Guide. In addition to walking you through the steps of identifying a bird, it also allows you to keep a log of all the birds you’ve seen.

The good news is that being a casual birdwatcher doesn’t require any special equipment or mean you have to memorize the Latin names of each species. You just need to take some time to be in nature, and observe and appreciate it.