I haven't shot birds before and this Saturday I will being going to an event in East Texas (Emery Eaglefest) to shoot Eagles. The event will have trained birds you will be able to get close to as well as bus (75 people per bus) and boat (6 people per boat with 4 boats on water) tours. They have already said monopods are allowed on the boat and we can bring tripods on the bus tours. I don't see tripods being to helpful on the bus tour with 75 people getting off probably scarring away most of the birds so I am going to assume monopod is the best I am going to be able to do with probably going to have to shoot handheld some. I did some searching on the internet for techniques and of course I found sites that support anything you want to believe. Some say shoot full manual and single point focus to almost any mode except full auto. Some say to maintain focus throughout the birds flight while other say only adjust focus in steps throughout the birds flight to keep your focus from jumping to the background. So, I come to you'll on how to best start shooting birds.
Equipment will be D90 with Nikkor 24-120 F4, Nikkor 70-300 VR and Tamron 200-500. My initial thinking is shot spot meter, auto ISO in Shutter Priority to best control shutter speed for the bird I am shooting. AF I thought would be 3D tracking but read some recommend single point using the center cross hairs, thought??