One of the best ways to learn birding is with other bird-watchers. Photograph by Yuriy Seleznev/Shutterstock.
Gather the right tools.
Bird-watching is a pretty inexpensive activity, but you need some essential tools, including a notebook, a good set of binoculars, and a field guide to help identify the birds you see. Every New Mexico birder should own The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, and Stan Tekiela’s Birds of New Mexico Field Guide. While many comprehensive field guides can be overwhelming for beginners, Tekiela focuses on the most common birds and organizes them by color.
Take it slow.
Looking and listening closely are probably a bird-watcher’s most valuable tools. “Slowing down is an essential feature of bird-watching,” says Robert Templeton, a northern New Mexico birder. Your actions in the field impact what birds you see. Because birds are on constant alert for predators, rapid movement or loud noises will send them flying for cover.
Find your flock.
One of the best ways to learn birding is with others. Bird-watchers tend to be friendly, inclusive folks, so it’s easy to find a mentor or group to help you learn. There are two very active local birding groups on Facebook: Birding New Mexico and New Mexico Bird Watchers. The New Mexico Ornithological Society lists activities, field expeditions, and more on its website. Call or drop by the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary, in Santa Fe, for more on birding throughout the state.