One of the great attractions of birdwatching is its simplicity. There are no set rules for birdwatching, no minimum requirements to meet and no real expectations other than spending some enjoyable time with the birds and your friends.
But if you’re ready to step things up, or if you love playing with new gizmos, this list is for you.
A good set of binoculars is an absolute requirement for birdwatching. It is possible to go birding without them, and some people do. But leave home without them and, unless you are an expert birder and can identify every bird by sight and sound, it won’t be long before your hands are itching to wrap themselves around a pair of binoculars.
A decent pair of binoculars will set you back $80 to $200, but those will last you for several years, longer if you take really good care of them. It is possible to spend over $1000 on a state-of-the-art pair but it’s best to stick with the reasonably priced pair, at least until you get a better feel for what kind of binoculars you like.
This is more important than you think, If your feet aren’t comfortable, it’s hard to enjoy yourself while birding. Footwear design and construction has made great strides (get it?) since the days of leather hiking boots and hard rubber soles.
Some really neat bird always draws them off the trail and into the (inevitably) wet and muddy undergrowth. Or dark woods. Or swamp. Or sand dune. Ankle-supporting hikers for woodland or rocky trails, rubber boots for marshy, muddy birding, lightweight tennis shoes or even sturdy sandals for casual birding along a boardwalk.
There is nothing more frustrating for the novice birdwatcher than seeing a tree full of beautifully colored birds and not being able to identify any of them. This is where the field guide comes in. Birdwatching has such a long and rich history, and is such a popular hobby, that there really isn’t a spot in North America (and many other places in the world) that doesn’t have a detailed field guide to the birds of that area.
A field guide is simply a book which describes all of the birds in a particular area. There is usually one page per species, with an illustration of the bird, a description of their plumages, information on their habitats and a range map showing where they normally occur.
The sun used to be our friend and we wanted to be out in it as much as possible. For most sensible humans this is no longer the case. A hat with a brim keeps the sun out of your eyes while birding, which makes for a clearer, brighter view. This is important because birding trips always last longer than first planned.
To be safe, it is suggested to also wear sun-blocking, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and sun-blocking gloves. You may look like the Invisible Man while birding in sunny settings, but this will help you avoid unnecessary trips to dermatologist.
Birds feed on insects and love to nest where there are more food, which means the better bird-watching areas will have more insects. Well, some bugs are just annoying but some may be harmful, it is important for bird watchers to protect ourselves with insect-proof hoodie/coats or at lease bug spray, so as to fully enjoy the sight.
These clothes may not look pretty but very functional, the see-through thin yarn for excellent ventilation in all direction and avoid blocking eyesight.
Love looking for owls? A little night vision might be just the thing. Infrared technology can cost an arm and a leg, but this little gadget is reasonably priced for beginners. Infrared night vision binoculars collect and amplify existing light, such as moonlight, starlight or infra-red light, through the objective lens, which is then focused on the image intensifier.
It even allows you to take photos and record video. You can adjust the monocular to accommodate the amount of available light, and zoom in or out as needed.
Notebook and Pen
Not every birder carries a notebook but novice birdwatchers find it useful to record their observations. A good way to learn bird identification is to examine a new bird closely, then write down a detailed description of what you saw in the notebook. This way, when the bird flies off, you can take your time going through the field guide, comparing the information in the guide to your description of the bird.
Whether you carry a high-end camera with lots of accessories, or just a good quality point-and-shoot, you don’t want it rolling around in the bottom of a backpack with your banana and water bottle. But carrying a backpack and a camera case is just too much. Compromise with a backpack boasting built-in camera storage. The padded sturdy pockets are also great for holding binoculars. Additional pockets can hold your snacks, field guide, and other assorted birding paraphernalia.
A checklist is similar to a field guide in that it lists all of the birds which are found in a particular area. Checklists are very useful for keeping track of the birds you encounter during a birding trip. All checklists can be folded and slipped into a pocket or between the pages of the field guide. Whenever you see a bird, you simply find the entry for that species and “check it off”.