View Full Version : What do I Need to Start Birding?
04-09-2012, 04:55 PM
Yes, I know I can go out anytime and look at birds, but to do it "correctly" what should I do? Binoculars I assume, is there like a bible of birding, bird identification, etc.? Are there professional birding associations that I may want to become familiar with?
04-09-2012, 06:35 PM
Contact your local Audobon Society. A little google-fu is all that is required for that. They generally have outings set up for most weekends and welcome newcomers.
A lot of them offer birding classes also.
Any good book store will have a number of books on bird identification.
Borrow some binoculars until you see how you like it.
04-09-2012, 06:38 PM
The Sibley guide (http://www.amazon.com/Sibley-Guide-Birds-David-Allen/dp/0679451226) is considered the current birding bible.
04-09-2012, 08:50 PM
Here's a couple of online sites that I use:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search/ac)-lots of good calls too-a significant % of species that I ID I do through sound only
eBird (http://ebird.org/ebird/map/leater1?neg=true&env.minX=&env.minY=&env.maxX=&env.maxY=&zh=false&gp=false&mr=1-12&bmo=1&emo=12&yr=on&byr=2008&eyr=2012) (place to put and keep track of yours and other's sightings, and see when species X will be common in your area).
The trickiest skill is putting your binocs to good use-I'd recommend for starters a set with a slightly lower magnification (7x or 8x) and mind the exit pupil (i.e. how close you need to get your eyes to the eyepieces to get the full field of view)-as a narrow one can cause eye strain and make it hard to see things. A wide field of view (the 2nd number-the 40 in a 7x40) can be helpful. Also check in the shop to see how narrow the plane of focus is, as a narrow one can cause most of your birds to be out of focus before you get it in focus.
As to techniques, drill on your focus knob until it is 2nd nature. Next, look for the bird with your Mark 1 eyeball first, then practice bringing the binocs up to your eyes without moving either them or your head. Trying to hunt with the binocs is like the proverbial needle in the haystack thing. Movement against the wind in foilage is the key, tho I would start with easy, obvious, and big birds like seagulls, herons and hawks first. Owls and nightjars can be fun too because of their loud and distinctive calls; you can start with the obvious singers in the daytime too (cardinals and wrens around here) if you want to bird by ear.
It will be a brand new world for you! Drink deep. :cool:
04-09-2012, 09:17 PM
I have a pair of 10x42 Nikon binos that weren't all that expensive, but have excellent optics. I wouldn't recommend zoom lens binos, as the optics just aren't that good, at least on the cheaper ones. If there are a lot of water fowl in your area, you may want to invest in an angled-lens (to prevent kinks in your neck) spotting scope and tripod. Water birds are often at a goodly distance and binoculars may not be up to the task.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.