What Do You Need?
- Good binoculars should have numbers on them like 8×36 or 10×42.
The first number is the magnification and the second number is the diameter of the larger (objective) lens and indicates how big your field of view is. The larger your field of view, the easier it is to find what you’re looking for.
- Spotting scopes require a tripod. They often give much better
magnification than binoculars but are not quite as portable.
- Field guides help you identify birds.
- They can be books or smartphone apps.
- Get familiar with their organization before you try to use them so that you don’t have to flip through the whole book for each bird you see.
- For photo-based guides, try the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America and The Crossley ID Guide by Richard Crossley. For illustration-based guides, try the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America, the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman, or the Sibley Field Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley.
- Smartphone apps can be really useful. Try Merlin by the Cornell Lab or iBird by the Mitch Waite Group. Ask your friends what they’re using and how they like it. There are many apps and, like field guides, they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
- Practice using binoculars on a sign or something else that doesn’t move.
- Find your bird with your eyes first, then move the binoculars up to look
- Get started in your backyard where you can see the same birds day
after day and learn them.
- Bird around your neighborhood, in parks and around water.
- Check out Birdwatching Basics, our introduction for beginning birders for more tips. View or download here. Also available in Spanish here