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5 Must-Have Pieces of Equipment for the Bird Watcher

Last Updated on

Birdwatching on a lakeshore

Communing with nature shouldn’t be an expensive endeavor. Fortunately, the equipment needed for birdwatching is relatively modest. To outfit yourself for this longstanding pastime, there are several key items that you must acquire. Here, we highlight what you should buy and how you should go about buying it.

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The Equipment Every Birder Should Own:

1. A Good Pair of Binoculars

You won’t get very far in bird watching without a sturdy pair of binoculars. Technically, binoculars of any variety will get the job done. However, there are some key attributes to look for that will ensure you get a pair suited for your needs.

Durability is key. Bird watching binoculars often get put through the wringer, so you’ll want something with a nice rubber or plastic shell that will keep it safe.

The optics are also important. Definition is more important than range. Go for something that’s capable of producing a high-quality image.

Zeiss 10x42 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTec...
  • Zeiss Conquest 10 x 42 HD Binocular - Case with Belt Loop - Neoprene Strap - Eyepiece Rainguard -...
  • AAoV of 52.8deg

It’s also important to factor in what kind of environments you’ll be doing your bird watching in. For example, if you plan to expose binoculars to areas near bodies of water, it will be to your advantage to get something moisture-proof. Some binoculars are even able to float, making them easier to retrieve if you are unfortunate enough to drop them in a lake, river, or pond.

2. A Comprehensive Field Guide

You’ll want a solid document that you can quickly reference as you go about your bird watching. A good field guide will be able to supply you with comprehensive information on all the birds you encounter.

It used to be that field guides were literal books or magazines. That’s not as much of a thing anymore. You can go paper if you’re old school, but you may also be able to find solid reference materials online.

There are even bird watching apps that make it easy to engage in your favorite hobby.

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of...
  • Alderfer, Jonathan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. Trail Cameras

Trail cameras are somewhat optional. Not everyone likes to go this route, but it’s a great way to take high-quality photos of the birds in your general vicinity. The cameras are usually motion-activated, so they only take pictures when there is an animal around. Most are also able to take high-quality images at night.

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4. Hiking Backpack

Bird watching takes time. As such, it’s good to prepare for all occasions. A big, sturdy hiking backpack will help you do so. What you actually end up putting in it is for you to decide, but you will at least need room for food and water.

It can also be handy to have space for a change of clothes and any other resource you might find yourself in need of.

Get something lightweight and airy. Good backpacks will often feature breathable fabric that keeps you from getting too hot. They may also have padded straps that will keep you comfortable.

You can go as simple or as high-end as you want with this purchase, but it’s a good idea to get something reliable if you can. The better the backpack, the smoother your entire experience is likely to go.

TETON 55L Scout Internal Frame Backpack for...
  • NOT YOUR BASIC BACKPACK: Continues to be the top selling internal frame backpack on Amazon at a...
  • TETON TOUGH: The best memories are made with the great durable gear; Perfect for any Adventure;...

5. A High-Quality Reusable Water Bottle

Hydration is key, and so is sustainability. As a human, you need to drink lots of water, especially when doing an activity like bird watching, which can be rather vigorous. As a bird watcher, you want your means of hydration to be as eco-friendly as possible.

A good reusable water bottle satisfies both concerns. You can get bottles that store lots of liquid while still being very portable. On average, humans need 64 ounces of water every day, so the bigger the container, the better. Remember, it’s not always so easy getting refills if you’re in the middle of a park or forest preserve.

Embrava 40oz Water Bottle - Large with Travel...
  • Large Capacity: This water bottle has a 40 ounce capacity, making it perfect for staying hydrated...
  • Durable Material: Crafted from BPA and BPS free Tritan plastic, this bottle is built to last and can...

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With bird watching, decisions mostly just come down to how you want to do things. Hopefully, the items suggested above will help you maximize the way you enjoy your bird watching.

Featured image credit: USFWS on Pixnio

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.