Bird watching is an outdoor hobby that anyone can get into. All you really need is an interest in wildlife and a little bit of the outdoors. If, however, you want to take your hobby to the next level, here are five essentials that you should pack for your next bird-watching foray.
The Right Clothing
Dress appropriate for spending a day outdoors in your weather. Try to use layers for comfort, and include lots of pockets. Don't overburden yourself with a lot of gadgets, but do include water and snacks. Since birds have acute vision, you should opt for light-colored and neutral clothing, avoiding significant patterns and clothes that make noise when you move.
A Field Guide
Field guides to birds are books published to help you identify what you're seeing. New watchers will want a regional book with lots of colorful pictures or photos to compare to the birds around you. And be sure to select a small book that you can easily carry without adding a lot of weight. Familiarize yourself with how your guide is laid out so you aren't fumbling with it in the wild.
Binoculars and a Scope
Binoculars help turn tiny blurs in trees into recognizable wild creatures. Look for a set of binoculars that has a wide range and a nice, crisp view. While they don't need to be expensive binoculars, choosing some that are too cheap, too narrow, or without enough magnification will only serve to frustrate you. If you're looking for nesting birds—such as eagles, hawks, or waterfowl—you may also want a decent spotting scope.
Most bird watchers like to have a camera along for the ride. Modern smartphones often provide enough camera technology to take nice views of special birds. For smaller birds, though, you may need to invest in either a separate camera with more focus or an add-on to boost your phone's reach. But don't spend your whole day trying to take pictures—you might miss half the fun of viewing.
Be sure you can take notes about things you see as well as notations for yourself. You may not remember exactly the route you took, for example, to find a great nesting location. And you will want to make notes of the characteristics of the birds and other wildlife you see along the way so you can pursue a serious hobby. So it behooves you to carry at least a small notebook and pen just for this purpose.
Carry these few things with you when you set out to find wildlife wherever you are. No matter whether it's in your backyard or a thousand miles away, you'll love getting up close and personal with new winged friends.