Winter is the season when many North American birders take a tropical vacation and discover that seeing birds in dense foliage is not easy! The birds can be spectacular, but it’s sometimes a single bird skulking in the shadows, sometimes 10 or 20 species moving through in a rush, and always seemingly hidden behind leaves. It’s a good chance to practice some basic binocular skills.
Keeping your binoculars at the ready is very important. When you are in one of these “active birding” situations, hold your binoculars in both hands at chin height, ready to aim at a bird. Also check to make sure they’re focused on the right distance. You should be anticipating where the birds will show up, so before any birds appear, just raise your binoculars and focus on that area. This will save the frustration of aiming at a bird and finding that you have to spend three seconds cranking the focus knob around.