Whether a long time birder or a novice, the better you prepare prior to travel, the more birds you will see while on your trip. If on a tour, the more you will contribute to the group and the better your guide will perform. On one of my first international tours there was a member who continued to call out the more common species with a “what’s that?”. That person posed a constant distraction to the guides (and the group) from finding more difficult species. Granted, we all make mistakes when in a new area and because of proportions, many of those will be common species, but with a bit of preparation, we don’t have to be “that person.”
Trip preparation takes time, but with discipline and practice, one can set the groundwork for a productive trip before leaving home. This section focuses on preparing for seeing birds, not how to use Trip Adviser or book a flight. I discuss items such as selecting books, making quick indices and master lists, and other practical tools. This is by no means an exhaustive list and many of the topics dovetail into other sections of this webpage. It seems every birder has their own technique for learning birds in foreign lands, please feel free to contribute your own as webpage comments.