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Why watch birds?
Birds engage our minds and senses, and connect us to nature and a broader community. They’re beautiful, distinct, and diverse. With Spark Birding, explore birdwatching through personal stories of discovery, articles, tips and online courses.

Photo: Willet with Sanderling in background

how to identify birds

Identifying the birds you are seeing is one of the most enjoyable aspects of bird watching. With a little practice and a few tips, you’ll be able to name many of the common species around you. Learn to use several basic strategies to identify birds: their size, shape, behavior, color, markings, and sounds. Get to know a few of these characteristics to make it easier. 


Have you ever been curious about birding as a hobby but have been a bit intimidated? Do you know a few obvious species but want to learn more? Our birding courses will inspire you to take a step forward and teach you some of the skills, and learn to identify the most common birding types and species. You’ll gain the confidence to get out in the field and inspiration to explore our treasured parks and wildlife refuges.

Birding Experience

essential gear

Most new hobbies require essential gear, and birding is no exception. Luckily the basic items you’ll need won’t require a big investment. Pretty much all you need to get started is a pair of binoculars, a field guide, and an easy-to-use birding app or two. Explore essential gear you’ll need and other helpful tools and accessories to build on your newfound hobby.

Spark Bird Stories

A “Spark Bird” is the bird that helped spark a person's interest in birding. Do you have a story? Read how a particular bird or bird watching experience turned others on to birding. MORE >

Birding Stories

American Robin

A Robin in our house

Ellen Emerson

Birding Stories


I still can't see a bufflehead without thinking, "Hey, there's a bubblehead" and remembering time with my father.

David Gregg

Birding Stories

Snowy Owl

A flash of movement caught my eye and I looked up to see a large white bird swooping to a landing.

Bill Thompson III