So you’d like to go birdwatching, but don’t know what to bring? Here’s the tools a beginner might need out on the field. Keep your dog out of your way with some toys from DoggieToys.Deals
- Binoculars or a Camera.
You are unlikely to see a bird within a few feet of yourself for more than a few seconds, but with these birdwatching tools, you can still have that experience. Using a camera or binoculars also prevents the need to go closer and closer to the birds. Doing so can cause them stress. However, zooming in on birds is both stress-free for them, and guilt-free for you.
Cameras are especially useful because they can immortalize your birdwatching experience. If your camera is a digital camera, you can even transfer your photos onto your computer and see the birds in greater detail. Yet, cameras also have a downside. Sometimes a birdwatcher can get lost in the photography aspect and forget to actually enjoy the birds.
- Field Guide
Field guides are invaluable. The one I own is a Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds, written by Roger Tory Peterson. This birdwatching source contains a checklist for what birds the reader has seen, and what to notice when trying to identify a bird. This guide also lists the birds of the Eastern United States and Canada, their scientific names, their appearance, their sizes, their range of travel, the habitat they prefer, what other species resembles them, and what their voice sounds like. It also has colored panels of the majority of the birds it lists, as well as range maps for every bird in the back of the guide. In addition, the book also contains information on accidentals and escaped pets.
When you choose your own field guide, keep in mind that these are some of the sections the guide might contain. You do not have to read your guide from cover to cover. Guides are meant to be consulted as you learn by experience; they are not meant to be studied religiously. Yet, bird field guides make valuable tools. They can help you to determine what birds you are seeing. Make sure when you buy a field guide that you buy one that is up-to-date. Information on bird ranges and populations can change drastically in just a few years.
- Notebook and Pencils.
Recording a birdwatching journal can help you to get a feel for the habits and migration patterns of birds. Keep in-depth information; you never know what patterns you will recognize in your information. An entry into your birdwatching notebook might go as follows:
Sunday, March 21st.
Site: Peninsula at Lake Erie
Type of land: Wetlands
Temperature: 40s F
Birds/Number of: Seagulls, flock. Merganser, 8. Canvasback, flock. Bufflehead, 5. Goldeneye, flock Mallard Ducks, 6.
Other Notes: Heard possible geese, perhaps more buffleheads out further beyond sight. Saw large bird in tree, possible blue heron. Saw mergansers for the very first time!
You may wish to utilize a sketchbook in addition to a notebook for your birdwatching experiences. When you are out watching birds, you can attempt to draw them yourself. Even if you are not a great drawer, this is a good idea. Drawing helps you pay attention to minute details of birds, such as the direction of their plumage or the width of their feathers.
Of course, you could simply incorporate your bird sketches into your notebook, as well as a variety of other things. For instance, if the birds leave behind a nice feather you may wish to store that. For such circumstances, a notebook with a pocket folder inside are useful tools.
The last basic birdwatching tool you will need is a backpack. After all, you need somewhere to store your notebook, sketchbook, writing utensils, binoculars, and/or camera. In your backpack you can also pack snacks, bugspray, or other outdoor supplies. Your backpack should be sturdy and especially waterproof. This is important if you will be by a pond, lake, river, or ocean in particular. You’ll want to store any valuables, such as your wallet, in waterproof containers as well. Like the clothing you wear, your backpack should not be too brightly colored or noticeable to avoid being seen by birds.
All information contained here was learned by experience. Happy birding!