How to Get Started With Birdwatching

Can you spot some of Wisconsin’s more than 430 species of birds?

Birding is a great way to engage with the natural world, and keeping track of which species you’ve spotted – a “life list” – is fun, low-impact, and the sort of collecting habit you don’t need closet space for later. The hobby compels you to spend time outdoors in natural places and to seek out parks and forests you haven’t seen before. Over the last couple of years, interest in birdwatching grew drastically, and unlike sourdough bread-making, many newcomers have kept up with the habit.



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Investment is minimal. Being able to get a closer look is helpful for an ID, especially for a small bird. Some will go all in with a spotting scope on a tripod, but most get by with that old pair of binoculars lying around or a nicer pocket-size Nikon pair. A birding guidebook is recommended, or a birding app such as eBird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Many parks, including those at Horicon Marsh, have lists of frequently seen species available at visitor centers or online.

More than 430 species of birds have been spotted in Wisconsin, and while some IDs (such as a bald eagle) are easy, the myriad species of warblers or waterfowl can be a fun challenge.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July Issue.

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