If you think "birder" and think of someone in hiking clothes with a massive pair of binoculars skulking through underbrush, try again! Birdwatching or birding is a hobby anyone, young or old, can pick up, no matter your activity level. It can be done year-round, be solitary or with a group, formal (participating in citizen science projects) or informal (just observing birds at your feeder). Seen a handsome red fella like this Northern Cardinal? You're a birder!
This guide is tailored to the North Wales area (Montgomery County, PA), but you'll find resources for everyone in this guide, starting with how to identify birds to bird behavior courses.
image by Frank DiLorenza at Pixabay
Birdwatching is a way to connect with nature -- vital for reducing anxiety in anxious times -- with a very low barrier to entrance: all you need is your eyes and a field guide of some sort.
What do you need to get started? Your eyes and a willingness to look. That's it. Go out and walk around your neighborhood: I almost guarantee you'll see at least one species flitting through the trees, bushes, or lawn.
But how do you identify what bird it is? For that, you'll need that willingness to look and learn a few keys to identification. Then use a guide-- whether it's online or a physical field guide -- and congratulations, you're a birder!
Not all birds are considerate enough to be as simple as the male Northern Cardinal to remember (hint, he's the only solid red bird in the eastern US), so drawing quick sketches with labels and notes in a little pocket notebook can be helpful to the learning process.
snippet from one of my field notebooks. Notice how rough my sketch is, but labeled with field marks and where I saw it.