How to Start Birding in Your Backyard During a Global Pandemic

Green-headed Sunbird Photo: © Geoffrey Baumbach /Unsplash

As we find ourselves amid a global pandemic, many of us are looking for ways to pass the time while staying at home. The good news is that COVID-19 is not ‘for the birds,’ and it is business as usual for our feathered friends! 

Birding in your backyard has many benefits, including, spending time outdoors and being able to impress your friends with your in-depth knowledge of the birds in your area after lockdown is over. Better yet, you can do it while drinking your morning coffee, Kombucha, or a glass of wine for the evening chorus!

With that in mind, here are our tips for birding in your backyard.

Create a ‘Yard List’

Even if you are not traditionally a list-person, creating a ‘yard list’ is an excellent way to get into birding! A yard list is a list of all the birds you see in a small area; in this case your backyard. You can extend this to include all birds that fly over your backyard, or even one’s you can hear from you backyard. It’s that simple. All you need is a pen and paper or the eBird app. 

Northern Cardinal Photo: © Timothy Dykes /Unsplash

Download a Bird App

Even if you are not a complete birding novice, there are some great apps to help you identify all the birds that you might see in your backyard. For identification purposes, we recommend Merlin Bird ID (international) or Roberston’s (Southern Africa). To record sightings try eBird (worldwide) or Bird Lasser (highly recommended for African countries).

Be Patient

Backyard birding doesn’t pay off immediately. Some days are more fruitful than others, but stay vigilant, particularly during migrations, as you never know when a new species will show up!

Stay Alert

Another great benefit of birding is it hones your senses. Suddenly your ears are tuned into bird sounds in your garden, and your eyes pick up the quickest flourish in the tree outside your window. Being alert is the best way to pick up a new species that may be passing by, even for the briefest of moments.

Rainbow Lorikeet Photo: © Trevor Mckinnon /Unsplash

Be Prepared to Challenge Yourself

At first, it will be easy, but after identifying the regulars, you will need to keep a keen eye out for the rare new species. You can also set yourself challenges such as daily bird counts, increasing your count by one species every month, or including birds you can hear (even if you can’t see them).

And Lastly, Don’t Feed the Birds

We don’t recommend any feeding of birds, as it creates an imbalance of competition and often little, less aggressive birds can be impacted by larger ones.


Looking for other ways to connect with nature during the COVID-19 pandemic? Read our Top Five Ways to Get Your Nature Fix Online During the Pandemic.