Field guides are a primary source of information for wildlife identification. Choosing the right guide and becoming familiar with it is key to enhancing your experience.
1. Online ResourcesIf you have a smartphone, you’re already carrying an untold number of free guides into the field. Online resources like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds, and Macroinvertebrates.org often have more information than can be printed on the pages of a physical guide and may include multimedia content like sounds and videos that simply can’t be printed.
2. Print Guides
3. Nature Apps
Sharing the details of your nature sighting can be exciting and memorable. Documenting the specific what, when, and where details can help you remember your wild encounters, help fellow naturalists plan their next adventure, and help our biologists track the status of wildlife across the state.
4. Local Nature and Conservation Organizations
If you prefer to explore in the company of others, consider joining or attending a meeting of a local nature organization like the Audubon Society or Pennsylvania Ornithological Society. These organizations often have member field trips that would give you a chance to explore Pennsylvania and support conservation at the same time. PGC’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and all of DCNR’s State Parks host bird and wildlife walks all throughout the year. Reach out to your local organizations and get to exploring!
A good pair of binoculars is essential when it comes to wildlife viewing. You will be able to detect finer details, see colors pop out of shadows, and improve your chance of identifying what you’ve seen. There is a wide variety of models, brands, and specifications, ranging from $50-$5,000 out there, so be sure to read reviews, test out different kinds, and make sure you find a pair that works best for you. If you’re into wildlife photography, your camera and various lenses will be your best friend. Much like binoculars, different size camera lenses allow you to zoom in close to wildlife, while still maintaining safe distances. A spotting scope and tripod will also extend your viewing range considerably. Scopes typically magnify an image from 20 to 60x and can have fixed or zoom magnification lenses. The tripod helps to stabilize your view and really hone in on your species of interest.
Interested in creating wildlife habitat at your own home? Visit our Habitat Management page for resources for landowners, for home owners, and information on creating or improving habitats for wildlife.
Interested in a full list of Pennsylvania birds, along with their scientific name, abundance, and seasonal status? Head to this page by the Pennsylvania Society of Ornithology to download the list via an Excel file.