Let’s begin by saying that to most enthusiasts or birders, there’s hardly such a question as to when one should go for birding. It’s a passion that runs through our veins and takes over the depths of our psyche. Whether it’s walking through a green trail, spending time in one’s backyard or dropping all household chores and running outside because we heard a bird call that was slightly peculiar. It’s safe to say that birds are highly captivating to any bird nerd, but with time and research, one does get a better sense of when to head out for bird watching. In order to do so, one needs to just simply observe when bird activity is the highest to get the best views to indulge in the well-known sport of ‘twitching’.
Nature has its patterns set in course. it watches and waits for the right time and conditions to make its move. With the grand spectrum, birds too have adapted by tuning in and learning these patterns. What this teaches us is that, It’s in our best interest as an enthusiast to do the same
Ideal Time of the Day for Bird Watching
It’s safe to say that most birds spend their time gathering nourishment through various food sources. Whether it’s for an individual or its family, they are relentless in their approach, adopting zen like stillness to hunt insects or observe other birds foraging around them. Mornings are a good time to observe most birds as the sun’s energy propels life to become more active. Insectivorous birds partake in a feeding frenzy as insects warm up and start moving about. Just before Sunset, evening brings in another spell for supper, after birds have had their rest during the day.
- Bird Calls
More often than not, we tend here birds far more than when we see them. As the sunrises, birds orchestrate some of the most remarkable symphonies called the dawn of chorus. Identifying birds based on their calls is easier too as each species has a unique song to sing. In the night, it’s the nocturnal species that are far more active, seeking them out based on their calls too is far easier.
Acquiring territory and attracting mates is by no means an easy task. Birds need to be seen and heard in all their splendour, for which they take to a well-lit perch. Advertising their plumage and song under the spotlight of the sun is one of the best ways to spot these winged wonders.
As the mercury rises, birds take to water to quench their thirst or even engage in bath to cool themselves off. Heading to a water source or setting up a birdbath can attract many visitors. At times, this one of the best places to even observe some rare species as they come out in the open for a drink
Tuning into these behaviours allow us to keep an eye out for where birds are likely to be at specific times.
Ideal Time of the Year for Bird Watching
Though birds are prevalent in our lives all year. There are certain seasons when spotting a majority pays dividends. This is ideal for any birder as they can tick off checklists of a wide diversity of species they wish to see.
Winter is definitely the best time to observe large congregations of birds. During fall, many birds especially waterfowl that include ducks, geese, storks and waders, journey across the globe to a destination where they seek refuge in sanctums that are abundant in resources. Many of these birds take several pit stops along the way before they reach their destination. Following their flight patterns can give birders a better idea on where to witness these large flocks.
- Breeding Season
This is the time when birds exhibit their new plumages and become more boisterous to attract their mates. They gather harems or sing from a conspicuous perch, just to be noticed. In most cases, summer is the best time to witness such behaviour as bird calls fill the air and courtship rituals are well underway. This is also a time when food for avifauna is abundant, which means plenty of activity for birders to witness. Post summer, is when monsoon arrives and the nestlings are calling out for their parents for food. This is also by far the best time to see juveniles.
Though this gives us a broad idea, witnessing birds also depends on factors such as climate and habitats.
Best Time to See Certain Species
To be able to spot certain species of birds, it’s important to dive deeper into the behaviour of these birds. For example, owls and nightjars are mostly active during the night, while raptors such as eagles, hawks and vultures can be seen soaring in the sky, riding thermal vents when the temperatures get hot enough (this is usually around mid-day). For birds such as swifts, pratincoles and even swallows, the best time to see them is during twilight hours as this when they can be seen hawking for insects.
While this does give us a rough idea, the more you engage in bird watching, the better you’re equipped to understand the timing of birds. Even observing individuals can help birders understand that each bird is unique, that some of them are far more tuned in. For example, certain drongos have observed that insect activity increases under street lights. By doing so, they are able to hawk insects during this time, which leaves the majority of the food just for themselves. Cases like this signify that birds are highly opportunistic, they will seek the best conditions for their survival. Birding on a regular basis will help you tap into such observations, which will inadvertently guide you in where and when to look.