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One of the best places you can begin to watch birds is on your very own doorstep. If you've been tempted to take up bird watching but are put off by the vast amount of birds you need to identify or you don't fancy travelling the length and breadth of the country to find them, then bird watching closer to home might be the answer.

Cat Watching Birds

Observing garden birds is a great way to start bird watching. You will learn to identify different species from markings and calls and study their behaviour.

With the destruction of many wild birds' natural habitats in the countryside, gardens are becoming more and more important to birds and you will see a variety of different species. Private gardens now occupy more land than nature reserves.

You may be interested in creating a bird friendly garden to try and attract more birds by putting out food and water and planting shrubs, trees and flowers that can benefit birds.

There are some birds who use your garden like sparrows, starlings, wrens and blackbirds who are probably already familiar to you but many others use gardens on a seasonal basis and may be new to you. For that reason it is worth buying a garden bird identification guide.

Every year the Big Garden Birdwatch team receive reports form people who have seen rare birds in their gardens. In recent years red kites, firecrests, hawfinches and little egrets have all been spotted.

Once you have started to attract new species of birds to your garden it is advisable to keep a diary of the different types you see. This way you can track when different birds visit and what they feed on when they are there.

A compact pair of binoculars could also be useful as you can then observe birds close up without disturbing them. You might want to get a digital camera as well to take photographs of the birds you see. Take a look at our binoculars section where you can find some quality binoculars for under £50.00 which are ideal for armchair bird watching.

And if you have a bird box in your garden you could invest in a nestcam - a special box fitted with a camera - so you can watch your very own wildlife show in the comfort of your living room.

Once you begin to learn about garden birds you are likely to want to learn more. Taking part in surveys such as Big Garden Birdwatch will also mean you are contributing to the conservation of wild birds. It was armchair bird watchers who first noticed the decline of the house sparrow and those who watch birds in their garden are keeping a close eye on the falling numbers of starlings - all without leaving the house!

Whether you live in a small village or the heart of a big city, watching birds in your garden is a great introduction to bird watching and after some time you may want to spread your wings a little and go birding further afield.

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