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How to Watch Wildlife

Wildlife Viewing Tips

Observing wildlife in nature is a rewarding experience that requires little more than patience. However, investing in (or borrowing) the right equipment and following a few key tips will help make your wildlife watching excursion as successful as it can be.

Keep Wildlife Wild

Give wildlife space.

Keep your distance for the safety and comfort of animals and people. If an animal changes its behavior, stops eating, or seems nervous, it is time to back away. When it returns to normal activities, you are at a safe distance. Never chase or harass wildlife. A spooked animal may become injured trying to flee, or it may abandon a nest or quit feeding.

Stay quiet and still.

Noise and quick movements mean danger to wildlife. Move slowly and quietly and encourage your companions to do likewise. This will lessen the wildlife disturbance and allow you to see more wildlife. Choose a good vantage spot, sit for a while, and observe as wildlife comes and goes undisturbed.

Leave baby animals alone.

It is fairly common to see young animals, like deer and young birds by themselves during spring and summer. Although they may appear to be orphaned or abandoned, this is rarely the case. The parents of the young are likely standing by, just out of sight. Keep your distance and the parents will soon return to feed and care for their young.

Do not feed wildlife.

It can change the behavior of animals in ways that can be harmful to them and to people. Reserve feeding for “backyard” birds.

Tips for Observing Wildlife

Time your outing.

Many animals are more active in early morning and late evenings. Also, consider the season as some species appear during certain seasons at particular sites.

Wear earth-toned clothing.

Animals will tolerate you better if you blend into the surrounding. Try wearing tans, grays, and green colored clothes.

Be prepared.

Review field guides and other resources on the wildlife you hope to see. Knowing about the needs and behavior of animals will make spotting and identifying them easier. Visit the Nebraska Birding Guide website to learn more about where and how to view birds and visit the Nebraska Wildlife webpages to learn more about wildlife in Nebraska.

Bring your binoculars.

Binoculars are one of the most helpful tools a wildlife watcher can have. First, locate the object you wish to see up close with the naked eye. Then without moving your eyes, bring the binoculars to your eyes and focus. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to observe wildlife while keeping a safe distance.

Be considerate of others.

If you arrive at a site that already has other people observing wildlife, stay quiet and move slowly as you approach. Slamming your car doors, talking too loudly or moving too quickly may frighten any wildlife people are enjoying.  Please also respect all property boundaries and get permission from the landowner before entering private property.

Look for movement, shapes and color contrasts.

Movement is the best giveaway. Watch for a tail or ear flicks, a head moving, and outlines of animals. Check closely for wildlife, like deer and birds, in areas where two habitats meet, such as where wetlands meet woods or prairies.

Consider the weather.

What we consider bad weather may make perfect opportunities for observing some species. Before a storm, some animals come out to feed. After a storm, when the rain stops, the skies clear and the wind dies down, many animals become very active.