Inside: Bird watching equipment is a must for even the backyard observer. A field guide, binoculars and camera with stand can suffice for the back yard, bird feeder enthusiast. If you are an extreme birdwatcher, then your bird watching equipment needs will be a bit more complex. Note: Amazon affiliate links appear in this post. If you click, I get a small compensation at no cost to you.
Bird watching equipment is a must no matter what kind of adventure you’re engaged in. A love of birds, wildlife and the outdoors makes bird watching day trips and bird watching themed vacations a perfect fit for many adventurers. I myself am perfectly content to set up a bird feeder watching station in my backyard, within perfect viewing from my favorite chair. Here I can sip my favorite beverage, often my morning cup of coffee, and view and take notes on the various birds attracted to my feeders. Living on large acreage in the Oak Ridges Moraine of Ontario, I am thrilled by many different species and my view changes with the season.
Bird Watching Equipment for all Occasions
For any type of bird watching, there are some items that are indispensable. Binoculars are a must for seeing birds up close. Even those at your backyard bird feeder are much easier to identify with a decent pair of binoculars. Plumage and other physical details are also much easier to identify with this basic bird watching equipment. If you become a serious bird watcher and wish to put out some serious dollars, the Nikon Monarch and Leupold Yosemites are highly recommended binoculars. As I’d still consider myself an armchair amatuer, I still use my economical Bushnell’s. Start small I say and improve your equipment as your skills and obsession grow.
For taking pictures of your feathered friends, a camera is a must. I use my Canon Rebel Digital camera with a zoom lens. On the sports mode in automatic setting I am able to get some rather stunning photos. Plumage and other physical details are amazingly clear when watching birds at my backyard feeder. It is possible to use a smart phone camera. There are attachments for binoculars and spotting scopes for your smart phone in order to take advantage of the superior zoom power of those tools.
Field guides are a must even for backyard viewing. I am always amazed at the variety of species that visit my backyard feeders and the view changes from season to season. As an armchair birder, I love my book, The Bird Feeder Book by Donald and Lillian Stokes. It includes easy to read information about not only identifying your avian visitors but also great suggestions on attracting and understanding your feeder birds. I highly recommend this book. My father who has been an avid bird watcher for decades loves his Peterson field guide listed below. He has one that lists species found in his area of Southwestern Ontario. Regional guides are fantastic because they are not huge books so easier to carry with you on field trips and they tend to contain more detailed descriptions of the birds including their behaviors.
Smart Phone for Bird Watching
Your smart phone can be a great asset as a bird watcher. There are a number of Apps that can serve as your Field Guides A digital field guide is also much lighter to transport on trips. However, keep in mind that some birding destinations may have limited access to cell phone service. It’s always a good idea to keep a hard copy of your field guide close by just in case.
For iPhone lovers, there are a few apps that are super helpful. Birdseye provides directions to birds near you. If you’ve got a particular bird you are dying to add to your list, this app may find you that dream bird. The Cornell Lab Bird Q and A App gives you the ability to ask questions about the birds you are viewing. Ask almost any bird question and you are bound to get an answer.
eBird Mobile has apps for both android and iPhone. Keep records of your birds in digital format either online or off with this app. Find birds close to you and share your sightings with others. Bird watching is not just a solo activity. Find community with others who share your passion for bird watching by sharing your findings on-line.
Making Connections with Like-Minded Birders
Speaking of building your social connections through bird watching, making those connections is also a great way to learn from others. The Great Backyard Bird Count Website allows you to record bird sightings for about a two-week period mid February. The sight, in 2018, was open for data entry from February 16 until March 1. In order to record your sightings, you must create an eBird account which you can do directly from their website. In addition, at all times you can browse through data they’ve collected from members. It’s a great way to check out places for future bird watching adventures.
Other ways to make connections with other like minded bird watchers is through these websites:
- Get advice on putting up bird feeders,
- Count birds at your feeder
- Enter the data into their data base
- Examine data collected by the Project
- Information on identifying birds
- Interesting information about birds and birding
- Find information about bird conservation
- Information on bird identification
- Download the free Audubon Bird Guide App for either iPhone or Android
- Play games
- Links to eBird and Project FeederWatch
- Play interactive educational games
- Take courses related to Bird watching some free, others paid
I’d love for you to share photos you’ve taken during your bird watching adventures. Whether you’ve captured some sweet birds by your backyard bird feeders or taken an awesome photo of birds during your travels, I’d love to see them. Use the hashtag #birdwatchingscience and share those photos on Facebook and Twitter. I can’t wait to see what you have to share.