How do golden birds work in Ghost of Tsushima?

Follow the birdie.

Ghost of Tsushima wants you not to have to rely on the in-game map or user interface system as much as possible. It intends to signify a waypoint by having you rely on the wind, or for you to examine your surroundings more carefully. For instance, observant players may have been looking around at the golden birds flying nearby. While beautiful, these golden birds have a defining mechanic that you will want to learn about, and it can help you uncover secrets hidden nearby.

Whenever you see a golden bird, follow it. The bird is attempting to signify that there is a nearby secret available for you nearby, such as a hot spring location and something you may have been able to discover by yourself, but rewards you for paying attention to your surroundings. It won’t always be a hot spring. Most of the time, the golden birds lead your point of interest that you haven’t found yet, making it a far more appealing to avoid having to open up your map to see if anything interesting is nearby that you may want to investigate.

For those who prefer to explore every nook and cranny, you may want to look around for a golden bird while visiting a new area. They’re pretty quick to notice as they stand out, but losing them should be too difficult because they remain fairly close to the ground. If you do lose them, take a look around to see what you might have missed.