Knowing how to make a birdwatching journal can come in handy for the experienced birder and the novice birdwatcher alike. It will allow you to perfect your observations while recording your experiences in detail. A birding journal is much more than just a species list, it can be used as an identification tool, allows you to record sightings regarding certain species, and will come in handy if you’re trying to pinpoint the behaviors of different species.

How to make birdwatching journal is as simple as choosing the right type of journal that you’ll feel comfortable regularly using to keep track of sightings, in rich detail. A birding journal will include plenty of useful information such as flock size, species type, habitat, and the appearance and behaviors of the birds you’ve sighted. Making your own journal will allow you to customize the setup, so you can quickly access important information regarding your birding experiences.

As you can see, creating your own birding journal is a great way to keep track of bird sightings, and can contain important information that will make it easier to sight new species during a future outing.

Why You Should Make a Birding Journal

Keeping a species checklist is the perfect way to keep track of the different birds you see on each outing, but if you’ve spent hours observing wildlife, then you need more than just a checklist that reminds you of the birds you have seen that particular day. Many birders enjoy keeping track of field conditions, bird behaviors, and other goings on that have made a particular sighting interesting or memorable. Using a journal is the best way to keep a record of a sighting using more detail.

A journal will also help you to perfect your species identification skills while encouraging you to learn more about specific species. It can also help to train your senses to make more detailed observations. With ongoing practice, you’ll be able to learn how to distinguish even the tiniest differences between a bird by relying on your journal notes and detailed observations. This will help you to appreciate the birds you’ve seen, based on your observations.

Different Styles of Birding Journals

How to make your own journal is simple. Use a notepad or journal and simply jot down, in detail, each sighting. You may want to reserve certain sections of the book for species type, what occurred during the sighting, and even the time of day you made the sighting. However, how you organize your birding journal is ultimately up to you and whether you prefer to stay highly organized or you prefer to quickly take notes that you can review later on.

notebook on wooden surface

There are many different styles and types of birding journals to choose from. A basic blank journal or notepad is probably the simplest option and its one that will allow you to customize the type of notes you take. A specialized birding journal will usually include sections that list the common characteristics of a specific species and record the dates of observation. However, a specialized birding journal is usually pricey, which for most, is a waste of money considering how easy it is to make your own.

When you’re looking at different types of journals and notebooks, make sure you choose one that will work for you in the field. You should feel comfortable using it and it should be organized in a manner that allows you to quickly and easily take down notes regarding a sighting.

Below are some of the characteristics you should consider before you choose a journal:

Journal Size

The pages of the journal should be large enough to allow you to make detailed observations, however, it shouldn’t be so large that the journal will not fit easily in your field bag or vest.

Binding Type

The volume should be durable and able to withstand different weather conditions and temperatures. The cover should also be tough enough to protect the pages. Books that lie flat or can fold over are usually the best choice

Information Tracking

Now that you know how to create your own birding journal, it’s time to figure out what type of information you should track, which is important since it will help you when it comes to making sightings in the future.

You’ll want to include a variety of info including the following:

  • Species: Obviously, jotting down the species of the bird you’ve sighted will be very important. It will help you keep track of the different types of birds that are in your neck of the woods and how rare a sighting is.
  • Habitat: Keep track of vegetation conditions, water sources, food sources, and plant life.
  • Weather: Write down the light conditions, wind level, visibility, and other important weather conditions.
  • Date: Jot down the time of day, the date, and the day of the week of the sighting.
  • Vocalizations: If the bird you’ve sighted has made any type of sound make sure you carefully write this down and include the color of their plumage. Vocalization is often done during the mating season, however, it can also be done to communicate with a mate or their young.
  • Behaviors: Keep track of how the bird or birds were acting when you made the sighting. This includes how birds react during certain weather conditions, and how the bird interacts with other birds.
  • Size of flock: If you’re tracking more than one bird at a time, estimate the size of the flock and keep note of the genders of the birds in a said flock. Also be sure to note whether it’s a mixed flock or same species flock.

small animal on branch

Related Questions

What are the Best Beginner-Friendly Birding Binocs?

Choosing a new pair of binoculars can be a big investment for the serious birder. Image quality is everything, so even the beginner will need a pair of high-quality binoculars that can allow them to see important details that will help them to identify the species and important markings.

I recommend the Carl Zeiss Conquest Binoculars, simply because they’re lightweight and feature an intuitive design that will make it much easier for the beginner to adjust for the ultimate viewing experience. Additionally, these binoculars are also a great choice for people who wear glasses, since they offer a highly adjustable design. To learn more about birding binoculars and the different style options available, click here to read the birding binoculars buyer’s guide.

How Do I Get Started Birding?

After you’ve purchased birding binoculars, I recommend doing some research online to learn about local birding hotspots. If possible, go with an experienced birder to learn more about the art of birdwatching and what you can expect from a typical experience. To learn more, click here to read our article on birdwatching for beginners.

Final Thoughts

How to make a birdwatching journal is simple, affordable, and a great way to customize your journal so it’s set up in a manner that allows you to quickly access important information. Choose a journal that offers the type of pages you prefer, whether lined or unlined, one that will fit in your vest pocket or field bag, and a journal that you’ll feel the most comfortable using.

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How to Make A Custom Birdwatching Journal
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How to Make A Custom Birdwatching Journal
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Learn how to create your own custom birdwatching journal in order to keep track of rate sightings and to learn more about bird behavior in your area.
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