Birding and Identification Resources
Being able to identify what you see and hear at Monticello Park can greatly enhance your enjoyment. A list of resources to help with identifying flora is in the Tree and Plant Category of the Resources Section. A list of resources for identifying arthropods is in the Insect and Spider Category.
Birding can be difficult. It takes a lot of practice to develop the skills needed to identify birds. Monticello Park is a good place to learn these skills, because birds frequently come down to where you can see them well. Not all species do this, and you might have to try to identify birds who are concealed in leaves high in a tree. Skilled birders often can identify birds after getting only a quick look at a small part of the bird; many can identify birds they cannot see at all if they hear the bird vocalizing. Here are some guides for identifying birds:
- The Sibley Guide to Birds
- The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
- Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America
- The New Birder's Guide to Birds of North America
- The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region
- Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds: Eastern Region
- The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds
- The Crossley Online Guide
- National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America
- Peterson Reference Guide to Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds
These guides are devoted to identifying birds in a particular family:
- The Warbler Guide
- A Field Guide to Warblers of North America
- Warblers of the Americas: An Identification Guide
- Stokes Field Guide to Warblers
- North American Raptors: A Photographic Guide
- The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors
- A Field Guide to Hawks of North America
Many visitors to Monticello now refer to apps on their phone instead of carrying a printed field guide. More detailed information about apps is in Digital Resources Category, but some are worth noting here. The online database eBird was created in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The site provides checklists for birders to record their sightings. The birders then submit their observations to eBird, which tabulates the results. eBird has been hailed as a major citizen science initiative, with hundreds of thousands of users in the US and around the world submitting millions of checklists for the database. Birders can report every individual bird they see, or they report only unusual or rare birds. Many birders now submit every bird sighting to eBird, which allows them to easily keep a list of their personal sightings for a given year, location, species, etc. The website also provides maps showing locations of sightings of each individual species as well as a list of birds seen at birding hotspots, such as Monticello Park. The eBird data for Monticello are not nearly as comprehensive as the data from the daily spring and fall surveys conducted at the park. But for most birding locations, eBird provides much better information than can be obtained anywhere else. Registration for eBird is free.
Other apps are available to help birders in the field. BirdsEye and Audubon Bird Guide use the eBird database to show current bird sightings and lists of birds seen in particular places. Apps such as Merlin and iBird help people to identify birds by appearance, while Song Sleuth and Bird Song ID USA help people to identify birds by song. Bird Journal provides a convenient way to keep records of your bird sightings.
- BirdsEye ($)
- Audubon Bird Guide
- iBird ($)
- Song Sleuth ($)
- Bird Songs USA & Canada ($)
- Bird Journal
- Birdwatching Bliss wrote a comparison of available apps to help you choose.
These guides offer identification aid for all aspects of nature in Washington, DC, and the Middle Altantic States:
- Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C.
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Middle Atlantic States
These websites have a lot of information about various life forms you might encounter at Monticello Park. The Maryland Biodiversity Project website provides detailed information about nature in Maryland and covers all of the species that can be seen at Monticello. The iNaturalist website and app can be used to identify nature from all over the world, and some of it can be helpful in identifying what you see in the Washington metro area. The Encyclopedia of Life has information about all types of life forms from around the world, including those seen at Monticello.
These articles provide advice about purchasing binoculars:
- National Audubon Binocular Guide
- Birdwatching Bliss Binocular Guide
- Cornell's Review of Binoculars (2013)
These are books about watching birds in the field and at home:
- Sibley's Birding Basics: How to Identify Birds, Using the Clues in Feathers, Habitats, Behaviors, and Sounds
- The Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond
- Mid-Atlantic Birds: Backyard Guide - Watching - Feeding - Landscaping - Nurturing - Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
- Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife
The American Birding Association (ABA) sponsors online lists for reporting bird sightings in most areas of the country. The two lists below can be useful for finding out what species are passing through the Washington metro area and might show up at Monticello Park.