My health has held me back lately, keeping me indoors when I’d like to be getting outside. We’ve also had some intensely windy days plus the usual bitter winter weather. I wrote about birding indoors in 2018 and decided to update my suggestion list to help myself keep birding despite these limitations.

1) Watch from your window. A surprising variety of birds visit our feeders, and I wouldn’t have realized it if I hadn’t taken the time to really look. Some of the birds that I’ve seen in our yard include wood ducks, northern flickers, yellow-rumped warblers, and red-tailed hawks. Even on the days that it’s just the usual crowd (house finches, dark-eyed juncos, chickadees, and nuthatches), I take the time to look closely. You never know when someone interesting might be hiding in the flock.

House finches are one of the most common birds at our feeder. (Photo by Kurt Fristrup)

2) Use eBird to identify local hot spots. While I am waiting for better weather, I try to find new places to bird. The eBird website is a great resource for finding hot spots and for locating rare birds in the area. Thanks to eBird and other online resources, I’ve seen a Harris’s hawk, greater white-fronted geese, and a black-and-white warbler in Colorado in the winter. I’ve also gone looking for common redpolls and loons without success, but got to see lots of other birds in the process.

3) Study up. I belong to the Facebook birding groups Raptor ID and the Colorado Bird Photography group. Both are teaching me how to identify species I see irregularly or have never seen at all by providing photos and talking about field marks. I look at the photos and guess at the species, then look to see what the photographer says. It’s important to remember that anyone can get an ID wrong, so I usually check my field guides for the birds I’m not sure about.

Purple finches at bird feeder (Photo by Kurt Fristrup)

4) Study up some more. Being able to recognize a bird’s song can help you identify it, so I am using Larkwire to learn more bird songs. This is an online game that makes memorizing different bird songs more fun. It also includes beautiful photos of each bird which helps you learn their appearance as well as their sounds.

5) Read about birds and birding. I just finished Noah Strycker’s The Thing With Feathers, which was full of fascinating stories about bowerbirds, Eurasian magpies, and starling flocks. I also love Bird Watcher’s Digest which includes articles about bird species and their behavior.

Do you bird indoors? How?

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