Birding Tools and Technology to Help You Be a Better Birder

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Show notes:

Birding is a fun activity with many different ways you can do it. You can bird by ear and identify birds by their songs. You can look at the birds and identify them that way. You can watch the birds out your window or as you spend time in your yard. Or you can go on trips where birding can be either a side activity or the main purpose of the trip. It really is an activity that pretty much anyone can do in pretty much any location.

In this episode, I am joined by James Wheat. James is the President of the Kentucky Ornithological Society. You may also remember him from our conversation a few months ago about the Christmas Bird Count. Once again James shares a wealth of information along with his passion for helping others get involved in birding.

Our conversation focuses on birding tools and technology that can be helpful for birders with any experience level. We start our conversation by talking about binoculars, what the numbers mean, and tips about what to look for when purchasing binoculars. Our conversation then moves to a discussion of free birding apps that James really enjoys using.

The first birding app that we discuss is Merlin which is in some ways a digital field guide, but can also do so much more. This app can help you identify a bird whether you see it or hear it, and you can access tons of detailed information about that bird.

The second app that we talk about is eBird which also has a desktop version. eBird helps you keep track of the birds that you’ve seen in different locations, let’s you see what birds other people have seen in a given location, and is used by scientists to study birds.

We wrap up our conversation by talking about the Birding Hotspots website which provides logistical information about parking, trail surfaces, bathrooms, etc. associated with the eBird hotspots. Links to all the resources we talked about can be found on the webpage for this episode.

Also, Anthony and I are working on a project that we’re very excited about. We’re hoping to make an announcement about it very soon, possibly within the next couple of weeks. If you want to be among the first to hear about it, and perhaps participate in our beta trial, then be sure to subscribe to our Backyard Ecology emails. You can do so at That’ll keep you up to date with everything going on in the Backyard Ecology world.

And when you sign up for our emails, you’ll also be able to download a free, e-book that explains why our familiar garden zones, don’t mean anything when it comes to gardening with native plants. That’s just our way of saying thank you for your interest in Backyard Ecology.

Until next week, I encourage you to take some time to enjoy the nature in your own yard and community.

Links for James:

James’ email:
Kentucky Ornithological Society’s webpage:

Binocular Resources:

6 Steps to Choosing a Pair of Binoculars You’ll Love:
How to Choose Your Binoculars:


Who’s Singing? How to Use Merlin Bird ID to Identify Bird Calls (1 hr webinar):


eBird Essentials (free course):

Site Logistical Resources:

Birding Hotspots:

Backyard Ecology Links:

YouTube Channel:
Patreon page:
Make a one-time donation:
Subscribe to Backyard Ecology emails:

Episode image:

American goldfinch
Photo credit: Shenandoah National Park, public domain

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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