Bird-watching is a great little hobby to have, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. Even a lot of veteran bird-watchers don’t use a lot of equipment.
Starting from obvious things like binoculars to a good hat or waterproof boots, there’s plenty of things you can get for bird-watching. You can even get night vision monoculars for nocturnal birds. While none of these are essential, your bird-watching experience will only get better with these around.
You don’t have to get all the items on this list. Truth be told, you can bird-watch without having anything at all. With a little effort, you can derive even more joy from bird-watching. Get things that interest you and try them out for yourself.
Must-Have Bird Watching Equipment
Bird-watching sounds like an activity that does not require any equipment. Perhaps that’s a reason why a lot of people love it as well! Because of its simplicity. But with a few accessories here and there, you can get much more out of this hobby.
Having a good pair of binoculars can make your bird-watching experience ten times better! You can see all the far-off birds just being in their habitats. The birds aren’t bothered by your presence either as you’re far away. They also make it much easier for your eyes to focus, without any distractions.
While there are plenty of options on the market and you probably have one at home as well, I would suggest checking out the Nikon 7577 Monarch Binocular. It’s great for bird-watching and will last you almost a lifetime.
Investing in a good pair of binoculars will only elevate your bird-watching experience. Trust me, once you’ve tried good ones, you won’t ever go back to the cheap, standard ones.
Ever wondered how those experienced birders know so much about everything? As a newbie, you might have a hard time telling one bird apart from the other. Fret not, this is very normal. This is why having a field guide is great. You can look at the birds through your binoculars and then try to match their features with your field guide to find out their details.
There won’t always be perfect matches, but even with general similarities, you can find out which family they belong to or where they are from. You can also use Google Lens to search for pictures of the bird on the internet. See if any matches come up. Then you’ll find all you need to know.
I suggest keeping multiple different guides, and see which one you like best. You’ll need to experiment a bit to find the one that works for you. For a first buy, I would suggest you check out the Peterson Field Guide. Depending on your area, of course, your field guide would vary. So keep that in mind.
Keeping a journal especially for your bird-watching days is a great idea! You can be as creative as you want with this. Some people like to list down the names of the birds that they’ve watched, and others might even include descriptions or their thoughts. It’s a great time sitting out and writing things out in nature.
But once you get used to it, you will want to journal even on rainy days. So it’s important to ensure that your field journal is waterproof. You can use any old journal or notebook for this, or even go digital on your phone. But I like the feel of an old-school journal in my hands, like the Rite in the Rain Notebook.
Monocular Plus Phone Holder
Here’s unconventional birding equipment that you might not have thought of before! It’s a monocular with an attachment to put on your smartphone. With the advent of social media, taking pictures of your bird-watching adventures is all the hype now. Using a monocular you can directly connect your smartphone to a spotting scope to take pictures!
A monocular is just a binocular with one lens. So you can use it even without a smartphone as well. You can go as extra as you want with this or get a basic setup with a tripod for beginners. The Gosky Titan Monocular is great for bird-watching and popular among this crowd.
If you start to carry things around with you while you go bird-watching, it’s very convenient to have a birding pack. It’s nothing fancy, and you can use pretty much any bag for this. Whether it be a backpack to hold all your things or a waist pack to carry your phone, keys, and other things, you’ll find out which one you prefer as time goes on.
I like the idea of a fanny bag or a waist bag like the JanSport Fifth Ave Fanny Pack. It’s very durable and compact and you’ll forget you’re even wearing it. Perfect for smaller accessories like your journal or pens or even a monocular.
Having the right footwear (and clothing as well) is very important when it comes to bird-watching. Even if the weather is good, there might be puddles or wet patches on the ground when you go bird-watching. It can be very annoying walking around with muddy sandals.
This is why you should invest in some good waterproof boots. While the Timberland Ankle Boot is more on the expensive side, it’s very versatile and you can wear it with any outfit or any event. You’ll get a lot of use out of it, even apart from bird-watching. You can also opt for more standard waterproof boots. They get the job done, but won’t last you very long.
Like I’ve just mentioned, having the proper outfit is crucial when you’re bird-watching. Every bird watcher should own a good, brimmed hat. As much as it’s great for bird watching, the sun can be very harmful to your skin. Remember to also wear protective clothing and lots of sunscreens. Full-sleeved clothes and pants are always a good idea when birding.
A good brimmed hat like the Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney will protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s even effective on rainy days and will keep the water away from your face. And in worst-case scenarios, it will even protect you from bird poop.
Bird Song Playlist/App
Now, this might mean different things to different people. You can make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to while you bird watch. But then you’d be missing out on half the fun. Most birds make beautiful sounds and you can even learn to identify them with the help of bird songs online. There are plenty of online websites that help you match bird songs.
You can even install bird-watching apps or digital field guides that have bird sounds with each bird. There are even CDs available meant to be used as field guides. You can get them as well. Listen to the sounds you hear and try to match them with the ones on your phone. Eventually, you will be able to recognize birds by their sound alone.
When you are a newbie to bird watching, there are plenty of small details to learn about. It’s an exciting new world. During these times, it’s very helpful to have a guide or a mentor to help you out. You can learn new things and improve your bird-watching skills.
This can be anything you want. You can use an app to teach you new tricks and tips or you can even get a proper mentor. If you just ask an experienced bird-watcher to teach you, I’m sure they will be happy to pass on the knowledge.
There are also plenty of birding books available. These are slightly different from field guides and more focused on how to bird-watch more effectively. Even online forums or bird-watching groups can also be used as your birding mentor.
While binoculars will do most of your work, for birds that are hiding pretty far away, you might have use for a spotting scope. A spotting scope like the Celestron can help you zoom in even on the farthest birds. It’s great for noticing details and closely observing birds.
It is slightly more expensive, so I would suggest this if you are serious about bird-watching as a hobby. This is high-quality gear and will help you catch glimpses of rare birds and their features. When you are more familiar with the details of birds, you can easily identify them and set them apart from other species.
This is a matter of preference. Some bird-watchers hate the idea of taking photos. They want to “live in the moment” and experience the activity itself. But everyone shares photos of their day on social media nowadays. It’s completely fine if you want to post a rare bird online or even keep it captured for memory.
Most smartphone cameras are pretty great nowadays. So you can just use that. But if you are also into photography, you might be interested in the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. It’s very versatile and perfect for those zoomed-in shots. You can take pictures of your favorite birds from a distance.
And having a camera is great for other occasions as well. So even if you don’t stick to bird-watching this equipment won’t go to waste. But if the thought of carrying around a camera with you fills you with dread, then your smartphone camera should work just fine.
No, this is not your regular checklist of tasks. It’s very similar to a field guide, but it holds only the list of the birds found in your area. There aren’t descriptions or information about the birds, only a list that you can check off as you spot any of the birds.
While most checklists won’t have too much detail, if you’re visiting an area that is well researched and popular with bird-watchers you might get more information. There may be things like the time when the species are present, its status, etc.
Since checklists will differ according to your area, you can usually find them online and print them. You might get a few from Field Guides as well. Some of them include a checklist. This is where local bird-watching groups will be really helpful. The more experienced watchers will know where to look for checklists or they might have made one themselves!
Night Vision Monocular
Even though bird-watching is best done in daylight, the experience you get when the sun goes down is something else! Many birds behave differently at night and certain nocturnal species appear exclusively as well. So, night-time bird-watching is also a very fun activity.
The only problem is, it can be very difficult to spot birds in the dark. Especially hidden in trees, they are next to impossible to see. You can just flash a torch in their face either because that would disrupt their natural behavior.
This is where night vision monoculars would come in real handy. They allow you to take pictures and record videos. You can even zoom in and out and get a better view of the birds in the dark. I recommend the Firefield Nightfall Night Vision Monocular. It’s very good quality and worth the price.
Bird watching doesn’t necessarily have to stop when you’re busy or away from your spot. There’s plenty of scope to bird-watch even from your backyards. If you’re a fan of this location, then you probably might have been curious about what happens when you’re not around.
You can use a Stealth Cam G42NG trail camera to spy on the birds while you’re not around. It is very easy to set up and blends right in with the surroundings. You can use it all day and night to take photos or videos. This way you can bird-watch even when you aren’t there to see what’s going on.
If backpacks or waist packs aren’t your thing, you can opt for getting a birding vest! These are very versatile and provide lots of storage for you to carry things around while leaving your hands free! You can carry snacks, your journal, your checklists, your phones, etc all in one vest.
The Lentta Cargo Vest is one of my favorites as it’s affordable as well as durable. It comes in plenty of colors and sizes, so you can choose the one you like.
What Are The Two Most Important Things Required For Birdwatching?
If you’re going birdwatching and can’t decide what to bring with you I would suggest a pair of binoculars and some proper clothes/footwear. The most important part of bird-watching is that you can comfortably watch the birds. Your outfit will keep you protected and dry, while the binoculars will help you see the birds up close.
You should dress appropriately and wear good boots that will protect you even in rainy weather. Starting from a good brimmed hat to protect you from the sun, to proper waterproof boots your bird-watching outfit is crucial. If its summer try to ensure that you don’t feel too hot, and when in winter or rainy weather, wear layers and try to keep warm.
Once you’re dressed for the part, the next important thing is to have a proper view. You could have all the high-class equipment in the world, but without a pair of good binoculars, you won’t be able to see a lot of birds.
Birds are usually scared of humans and they stay away. Furthermore, they will act differently if they are aware of human presence. So it’s best to watch them from a distance. With good binoculars, you can spend a lot of time observing these birds as they naturally go about their day. It’ll give you enough time to write things down, take pictures or even match with a guide.
If you are going for a night session, maybe even bringing along those night vision monoculars would be a great idea! Once you start getting the hang of it, you will figure out what kind of binoculars you prefer. I would also suggest that you keep a pair of spares with you just in case.
You must have found at least one bird watching equipment (if not more) that you have been wanting to try out! You can easily get any of these online and enjoy the joys of birding.