Finding Birds Using Technology

Ok, you have a field guide and binoculars and you are ready to see birds, but can’t find any!

Getting on particular list-serves and websites can really enhance your birding experience and help you locate birds. You’ ll know when birds are coming and where they are being seen. You'll do that by just checking your computer, tablet or smartphone.  

First, bookmark the site and check it regularly during migration. This site uses radar to show how the migration is progressing. This site, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will help you know, with some certainty, if tomorrow, or the next day, will be a great birding day. On this site, they try to predict where the birds are going to show. It is a free site and there's no membership required. It is only active during spring and fall migration.

Next, you ought to sign up for the New York State Bird list-serve. This is run by Cornell University and is also free. When fellow birders see an interesting birds, they post their list immediately and it turns up on every subscribers email. So, when you see that rare bird, you can post it to let everyone know where you saw it. Conversely, when others post their list, you get to read and know where birds are being see all over New York State. To subscribe, link below and follow the simple directions. You can quit anytime if the sightings begin to clog you're email or you can ask that the emails be sent each evening in a concise, digest format.  

Posting photos, using bad language, discussing politics or non-birding issues are not permitted. It's best to read other posts for a while before posting yourself. That way you'll understand the culture of the site. For instance, most people will not be interested if you post that you saw three Chickadees and a Robin, but will thank you for that rare sighting or the location where you saw 53 species. By the way, owl locations are never posted. If you plan on birding while you travel, there are list-serves for just about every state.

There's also Cornell University's website Cornell's is a place where you enter all of your sightings, along with other information like time, date, effort, weather, companions. They will keep the date you submit on their site and it will serve as your birding diary. Your list will be correlated with other lists and the data they collect will be used to study bird populations. For them, this citizen science yields tons of information. For you, it keeps a convenient and complete record of everything you saw. There is much more you can do on this site. It's worthwhile to spend some time exploring there.  To join, go to There's even a free course on using ebird, you can get it here:

If you're on social media, there are various Facebook pages, such as New York Birders and others. Most of these pages have bird discussions and people show off their photographs. However, you can usually find out about local rarities and see photos of them.

Finally, many birding friends set up their own alerts using WhatsApp on their smartphones. If you're birding a particular area frequently, ask fellow birders if they are aware of any local WhatsApp bulletin board.

Birding has certainly changed from when I began. It's a whole lot easier now to know what's happening.