Sometimes you go birding and there just doesn’t seem to be anything around. You’re in the thick of the forest and there is literally nothing, well almost. This is what it felt like when I went birding at Moraine State Park a month ago. I thought, “there’s bound to be some birds, after all it’s the forest.” Well, it turns out that there’s more to birding than just the location you choose.
Two large factors to consider include the time of day and if it’s breeding season.
Time of day
The time of day you should go birding depends on the type of activity birds do throughout the day. This includes foraging, singing, sunning, and drinking:
Foraging birds will mostly forage for food early in the morning at sunrise. This is done to replenish energy from the lose of energy from the previous night. However, birds will also feed later in the evening to store up energy for the night. Still other birds, like owls, will feed at night.
If you are able to identify birds by sound, then it is best to bird in the early morning, as this is when birds sing the most. It is at this time that birds will be actively singing to establish territories and attract mates (spring and summer).
If you’re not an early morning person, there is still hope for you. Birds that sun themselves do so mid-afternoon. Birds use the sun to regulate their temperature and also for feather mite control.
If you are birding near water, you are in luck. Birds will typically drink during the hottest part of the day. This includes ponds, bird baths, lakes, etc…
Here is where we get technical. eBird is a great source to research when specific birds breed throughout the year. Typically, the main breeding season is during the summer. Geographically speaking, the further up north you move, the later the mating season will begin. Some birds, like the Great Horned Owl, will start breeding during winter.