How to use the Merlin App for birdwatching

Developers release new outdoor mobile apps all the time. If you’re learning birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s birding app Merlin is one you can’t miss. The app’s new features provide great tools for birdwatchers of all skill levels. Since being a beginner birdwatcher can be especially challenging, it’s important to recognize how these can help people that are just starting …

How to choose a pair of binoculars

For me, choosing my first pair of binoculars was a major first step in my naturalist journey. They opened up a whole world of nature and let me get a closer look at all kinds of wildlife. However, getting started with a pair of binoculars can be daunting. There are loads of different options and a massive price range, and …

How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard?

Hummingbirds are no-doubt one of the most delightful groups of birds in the Western hemisphere. They’re fast, energetic, spunky, and fly like insects, achieving feats that most birds cannot. In many ways, hummingbirds also symbolize an idyllic garden scene, hovering their way from flower to flower. I tend to get one particular question when hummingbirds migrate back through North America …

The Elevation Time Machine

Going up thousands of feet or meters in elevation, it’s easy to notice temperatures getting cooler, and air getting “thinner”. You may also notice the air getting less humid, or the dirt beneath your feet changing. The soil itself may change to something more sandy, gravelly or rocky…

How to garden for wildlife

No matter where you live, it’s possible to find an array of wildlife right around your home. Your yard or garden can attract a wealth of fascinating critters for you and your family to enjoy.

How to describe outdoor places like a naturalist

One of the most delightful parts of nature adventures is getting to share them with others. The huge variety of outdoor places is part of what makes the outdoor lifestyle so exciting and rewarding. On the other hand, it can be hard to describe the outdoor places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen. Conversely, if you’re looking for certain …

Why do species have scientific names?

If you’ve looked at any field guide or read a scientific paper in ecology or biology, you’ve probably run into scientific names. These are the fancy, often Harry-Potter-sounding words written in italics and describing a species. Often times you’ll hear them, or read them, after a species’ common name. A friend of mine once told me that to be a …

How to use field marks for birdwatching

Do you use field marks when you’re watching birds? Let’s imagine a typical situation: You’re walking to your car after work, or starting a hike on a gorgeous Saturday morning. Or maybe you’re stopped at a traffic and looking out the window. You see a bird that you don’t recognize. It’s there for maybe for a few seconds or a …

How to use binoculars

Whether or not you’re a birder, binoculars can really enhance time spent in nature. Animals are often wary of people, making it hard to see them up close. Binoculars can bring you up-close and personal with animals at medium distances, or help you find or identify things at longer distances if they are inaccessible. I’ve used my binoculars for everything …