New to birdwatching? These six essential items will help you turn the hobby of birding into a lifelong passion. Birdwatching is one of the most beloved forms of wildlife observation, and while you can technically birdwatch with zero equipment, we’ve compiled a list of items that’ll make your pastime easier and more enthralling.
Here’s what on our list of essentials for new birdwatchers:
- Field Journal
- Field Guide
- A Brimmed Hat
- A Good Pair of Sneakers
- Birding Pack, Vest or Tote
While you can birdwatch with the naked eye, a good pair of binoculars will improve your birding experience immensely. Binoculars are expensive, but if you don’t want to lay out a few hundred dollars quite yet, that’s okay. In the past couple years, several models under $100 have hit the market and received relatively positive reviews. If you’ve got cash to burn, you’ll have no trouble spending thousands on an excellent binocular, either.
This binocular buying guide from the National Audubon Society has something for everyone, so we recommend having a look.
2. Field Journal
A field journal is a birdwatcher’s diary. Many birdwatchers cherish their field journal, using it to record their sightings every time they look to the skies. You may prefer to use your field journal as a life list, recording information only when you spy a new bird species. The idea of a life list, of course, is to reflect on just how many types of birds you’ve encountered in your lifetime.
You can order a dedicated field journal, use a plain journal or diary, or even utilize the notes app on your iPhone. Whatever method works for you is a-okay.
3. Field Guide
You’ll also likely want a field guide to help you understand exactly what you spy in the sky. There are many different types of field guides, but our advice to beginners is choosing one that’s not so overwhelming. Pick a book for novices that covers only a few hundred of the most common species and isn’t so overly detailed you get discouraged.
The National Audubon Society offers suggestions on which bird guide may be best for you in this very handy article.
4. A Brimmed Hat
Chances are you’ll bird when the skies are sunny and clear, which means your face and eyes will need some protection from both excessive sunlight and dangerous sunburn. A brimmed hat can offer you both without altering what you see, which sunglasses can sometimes do.
5. A Good Pair of Sneakers
You’d think this goes without saying, but all too often, shoes are an afterthought for birdwatchers. Investing in a good pair of sneakers that’ll keep you comfortable and energized all day is never a bad idea. If you’re birdwatching in uneven or challenging terrain, you might choose hiking boots with ankle support. Traditional tennis sneakers are totally fine for regular birdwatching, but you’ll want a nice, new pair for optimal support.
6. Birding Pack, Vest or Tote
Finally, you’re going to want a place to store all your birding essentials. You can buy a formal birding pack or vest, or even use something a little more multipurpose like a canvas tote bag. We have a couple pun-filled totes for bird watchers in our Happy Gardens collection that are perfect for storing a field guide, a journal, a pair of binoculars and a healthy snack. They even have an interior pocket, which far too many totes lack.
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