Are you looking for something that will have you spending more time outdoors? Are you looking for a new hobby? How about a hobby that can teach you much about our natural world? It just so happens that birding is the perfect choice for all of the above! With these tips you can get started right away.

Gather up your bird references: Get a field guide, preferably one that's pocket-size. One of our favorite's is National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, by Jon L. Dunn and Jonathan Alderfer. Also, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many online guides and tips, including a search tool that helps you identify birds by color and shape.

Invest in binoculars: Whether bird watching in your own backyard or while at your favorite park, a good pair of binoculars comes in handy and helps you sharpen your vision. When traveling, birding gives you a great excuse to explore new parks and natural areas so you can look for some new-to-you species.

Keep records: As your knowledge of the local bird population expands and sharpens, you can send in your observations to one of several programs. A couple to consider include Project Feederwatch , which is ongoing, and Great Backyard Bird Count , which is coming up in mid-February. Your act of citizen science may be helpful to researchers.

Of course, if you haven't already set up a bird feeder or you want to add to your current collection, now is the time. When you offer a steady supply of high-quality food, such as Lyric Cardinal Premium Sunflower and Safflower Mix, birds will come flocking to your yard. It’s a excellent way to get to know the different species living right in your neighborhood.