Skip to content

Get Started With Birdwatching

As a recent NPR piece points out, you can birdwatch anywhere. While binoculars can help, all you really need to identify birds is a field guide in book or app format.

Read on for some resources to help you learn to identify birds.

Birdwatching Kit

Check out a birdwatching kit from our Library of Things! Each kit includes everything you need to get started, including two pairs of adult binoculars, two pairs of children’s binoculars, two bird identification books, and a backpack to carry it all in.


Free Apps (for IOS and Android)

Audubon Bird Guide

Enter your email address to get started, and create an account to keep track of the birds you see, receive alerts about nearby birds, and more. Download a birding pack to be fully functional offline.

Use the Bird ID function to help you identify a bird you saw. Enter information about the size, color, bird type, habitat, etc., and the app will suggest possible matches for you. Entries include photos, descriptions, recordings of songs and calls, and a range map.

Merlin Bird ID

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You will need an account if you want to save birds to your list or connect to the eBird website. Download a bird pack to get started with identifying birds.

The app will walk you through a series of choices (location, size, color, and behavior) before offering you a list of potential birds with photos, information, and song recordings to help you identify the bird you saw.

If you have a photo or a recording of the bird, try using the app’s Photo ID and Sound ID functions, which use machine learning to suggest possible matches. You can also use the app to view a list of birds that you are likely to see in your area.


Bird of the Week

Each of these 1 – 2 minute videos highlights a different Kentucky bird, including where and when you’ll be likely to find it, its favorite foods, and when its chicks are usually born.

The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America

This self-paced video course from The Great Courses includes 24 episodes, such as  “Birding Basics;” “Size, Shape, and Color as Birding Tools;” and “Birding by Ear.” To get started, sign up to Kanopy with your library card.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birding Skills

Improve your birding skills with these videos from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


A Field Guide for Fledgling Birders

Listen to or read this Life Kit from NPR. Experts offer tips and encouragement to beginning birders. You can bird anywhere, and you don’t need any special equipment!

All About Birds

Identify birds, get birdwatching tips, watch live cams, play educational games, and much more.

National Audubon Society

Learn how to become a better birder, search the bird guide, find an Audubon Society near you, etc.