10 Secrets to Becoming an Expert Naturalist

  1. Read incessantly and be sure to balance it with time in the field. 

  2. Use MountainNature.com to help you learn to observe. Only through careful observation can we ensure that today's encounter becomes a stepping stone towards future expertise

  3. Any worthwhile sighting is also worth recording. Keep a journal of your sightings to help you leverage previous experiences and make the most of future sightings. And don't forget to record your sightings in Mountain Nature Network's Sightings Database.

  4. Temper observation with respect. We all love to watch animals, but these same wonders also mean that they are sensitive to disturbance. Ethical naturalists make sure that their experience doesn't leave a negative impact on bird and wildlife populations.

  5. Don't rush to an identification. To become an expert, you need to watch, wait and learn! While you observe, make note of specific details. If you are watching a bird, what is its beak shape? Are there any markings on its head, wing or body? How does it perch? Where is it? Sometimes the best key to a positive ID is its location. You can often distinguish between two similar species by habitat. 

  6. Share your knowledge! Help other naturalists and outdoors people take advantage of your sightings. 

  7. Help current research. Most  biologists work with extremely limited budgets, and even more limited resources. A single radio collar comes with thousands of dollars in monitoring costs. Making your observations available to researchers can have a great impact at marginal cost.

  8. Become active in the preservation of the resource. Support conservation initiatives and organizations.

  9. Use all the tools available to you, including field guides, web sites like MountainNature.com, and the expertise of those with whom you share your outdoor experiences.

  10. Join naturalist associations and become part of a community of like-minded individuals.