Back in March of 2020, after being sent home to work, I found myself noticing the wildlife in my backyard. Interestingly enough, South Carolina has some unique birds and more so, a variety of migratory birds in the Spring and Winter months.
Starting your bird watching is pretty inexpensive and requires only a feeder and some bird seed. Since the beginning of March, I have learned that certain seeds and other types of bird foods such as suet, can attract several different species of birds, however starting small allows you to identify and become familiar with your frequent visitors.
Tower feeders and platform feeders seem to have the most success for my backyard. In price, depending on the size and brand of the feeder, they can range anywhere from $15 to $40+ dollars. I prefer to do all my shopping for bird watching supplies at Wild Birds Unlimited . You might pay more here, but the staff is very friendly, helpful and can offer many different services, such as setting up your feeding station, curb-side pickup, and advice on certain products.
Caring for Your Feeders
Initially, I had no idea, but cleaning your feeders is a vital part of feeding birds. In most parts of the country, House Finches in particular, are susceptible to diseases that they acquire from bird feeders. This can be prevented through weekly cleaning and changing out old seed. Please see this article from The Cornell Lab about proper cleaning.
Let me start off by saying, I still know little about photography and do not claim to be an expert. My first camera was a Nikon B500 Coolpix. It was great until the lens no longer retracted. I then bought a Kodak PixPro Astro Zoom Digital. It was about $360.00, and thus far I’ve been really impressed with it. Some “bird watchers” go next level and get Canon Cameras that are really expensive and take amazing action shots. I just like to get some good photos and document my finds. It really depends on how much you want to spend and learn about photography. Either way, photos are fun and they make for an adventurous activity while you are watching for birds.
Dealing with Other Critters
I have befriend my squirrels 🐿. Many bird feeders have options for stopping these and other animals from stealing your bird seed, however they are animals too! I have given them their own food, and they occasionally misbehave, but I don’t mind.
One critter that really causes me some drama is the raccoons.
Seriously cute, but will eat everything you have and more! I have to bring in my bird feeders at night in order to prevent my bird seed from disappearing faster than I would like. This one in the picture above is 1 of 6 that I have seen who come wandering in my backyard at night looking for food.
Useful Apps and Other Information
The most important thing you can do is locate the Merlin Bird App in the App Store on your smartphone and utilize it! It helps with identifying birds and you can even download eBird to keep a list of your sitings. There are a lot of birding groups on Facebook and you get to see photos of birds from other places and ask people for tips and tricks. Overall, it’s important just to have fun and enjoy what is offered around you or whenever you’re traveling.