Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I was introduced to geocaching about six years ago by a friend in Arizona. My kids loved the treasure hunting and exchanging of trinkets. Though I thought it was fun and interesting, I never really got into geocaching simply because I didn't have a GPS device. My brother, just 364 days younger than me, is an avid geocacher. My kids and I have enjoyed geocaching with him when he visits. Once I got a smartphone and had the ability to use geocaching apps, the door was again opened to me to participate in this fun activity. Since I live the mantra "always be birding", I found it very natural to combine the two activities of geocaching and birding.

Geocaching and birding have many characteristics in common. Both allow one to experience the thrill of the hunt in an intense or leisurely game of hide-and-seek. Participants try to get as many as possible, be it birds or caches. Both motivate you to get out and explore areas that you otherwise would not - bringing excitement and adventure. Both have about the same amount of nerdiness involved, including similar amounts of specialized equipment, apps, podcasts, and blogs. Geocaching forums can be just as snarky as birding listservs as folks layout their subjective opinions for the rules of the game. Most of all, geocaching and birding are similar in that we are finding things in plain sight that the average person on the street is missing out on.

In an effort to spread the joy of birding and to add another element of fun to birding may I introduce:

Birding + Geocaching = BirdCaching

What you need to get started:
  • GPS device or GPS enabled smartphone
  • Geocaching.com account (free or premium accounts available) -  - You can add me as a friend on that site. My username is Birding is Fun! 
  • Geocaching app by Groundspeak* (recommended)
  • BirdLog app (recommended)
Never heard of geocaching??? Check out this primer video clip.

How to BirdCache:
  • While visiting traditional geocache locations, simply conduct a stationary survey for 5 minutes or longer identifying all the birds you see and/or hear.
  • Report sightings to eBird using the BirdLog app, or make a list to report later on eBird.org.
  • You can also share your bird sightings list in your cache log on your geocaching app or when logging the find on Geocaching.com. Perhaps this will serve as an outreach program to interest more people in birding.
Placing a BirdCache:
  • Follow cache placing guidelines from Geocaching.com
  • Register the cache location on Geocaching.com and name it "[location name] - BirdCache". Naming it like this will let other birders know that it was specifically placed as a BirdCache site. It will also let regular geocachers know beforehand what type of cache it is.
  • If it does not already exist, create an eBird hotspot for this location so others can use it on eBird and so you can enjoy tracking the bird sightings data at that location.
  • Consider creating a series of BirdCaches at great birding locations near you. (Always obtain permission from the land owner first!)
Items to include in the cache:
BirdCache using an ammo box
  • Log Book - an inexpensive notepad in a zip-lock sandwich bag to avoid moisture damage.
  • Pencil/Pen for finders to write with.
  • Instructions inviting cache finders to indicate the date and time and to list all the birds seen and/or heard from the cache location. May include an invitation to use eBird, a free service for logging bird sightings. Please indicate that the birding aspect of this cache is completely optional for the finder.
  • Include a laminated pamphlet of birds of the area, a checklist of area birds, or maybe even a field guide.
  • Invite non-birder cache finders to download a birding app to their smartphones. They are so inexpensive now they're almost free!
  • Depending on the size of the cache, you may include other trinkets for trade.
  • Trackable items are also fun. Send one out into the world and see where it goes. Perhaps include instructions asking it to show up at a birding festival you plan to attend.
I will monitor BirdCaches listed on Geocaching.com and maintain a list of them on a BirdCaching dedicated page on this website. When you go BirdCaching or place a BirdCache, please tell us about it!

*The Groundspeak Geocaching Logo is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. Used with permission.


  1. Replies
    1. I've recently visited a few traditional cache sites and logged the birds I saw there. It is fun and adds just a new element to birding.

  2. Robert, who would have guessed that you would find a way to make birding even MORE fun! I hope you enjoy it!

    1. BirdCaching is another way for me to sneak in more birding while the kids have a good time too. Its a win-win! We just went out and found seven caches last night in the Bountiful/Woods Cross area.

  3. Helpful note from an experienced cacher--if you are leaving field guids or identification aids, be sure they are marked as not-collectible. One of the fun things about geocaching is trading items you bring for items in the cache. Therefore, if you want it to be available after the first few cachers have found it then it needs to be very obvious that it stays with the cache.

  4. Brilliant idea, Robert! Yes, I have thinking more and more of doing geocaching and this will definitely get me going on it. Thanks!

  5. A great way of getting young and old off their butts, away from TV and video games. and a fantastic way to provide fun for the entire family! Thanks for posting this!

  6. Thank you for this idea! We ran with it and our Bird Cache at Nescopeck State Park has just been published!


    -Megan Taylor
    Env. Education Specialist