Monday, February 17, 2020

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Birding Essentials

Top 3 Tools to Make the Most Out of Your Birding Experiences

Top 3 Tools to Make the Most Out of Your Birding Experiences

Song Sparrow nest on ground. There are guides that can even help you identify eggs and nests.

If you love birding but aren’t quite sure what you need to get the most out of your experience, this article can help. Birding is a sport that is enjoyed by people of all kinds and at a number of different skill levels. Some just enjoy tracking the birds that visit their own neighborhoods, while others will cross the globe to find new and exotic species. Wherever you may fall on the spectrum, it is important to have a few critical pieces of equipment. This will make a large difference in both the enjoyment of your birding, and the identification of the birds you see. Birding can be a great hobby for any budget, and just a few simple tools are essential to make it as easy and as enjoyable as possible for you. We will look at the three essential pieces of equipment needed and why they are important.

Tool #1: The Field Guide

A field guide is an essential tool that will allow you to identify the birds you see. Field guides come in many different styles, and often choosing the right one for you comes down to personal taste. Often, they will have an organized system based on witnessed characteristics such as color, size, and other identifiers. Birds are grouped by these characteristics and the guides often have photos or illustrations to help pinpoint the species you find. A field guide is essential to correctly identify birds. Field guides also are available specific to certain regions of the country or continent. If you are staying close to home, a field guide specific to your area or area of the United States should be sufficient. If you travel, consider picking up a field guide that contains birds native to the area you will be birding in. Technology has made it possible to use an electronic field guide as well. Several software based field guides are available for use on your computer or mobile device.

Tool #2: Checklist or Diary

Of course, once you identify a bird, it is natural that you will want to keep track of that sighting; whether to write it down or mark it off a list to remember which birds you have seen before - among many other reasons. So, what is the best way to track information such as dates and times, locations, conditions, as well as any other information you deem valuable? Using a notebook, diary, checklist, or simply marking the birds in your field guide is an easy and exceptional way to get started. Some also use a spreadsheet program on their computer for their tracking. This method is also an option, but with few features to support your hobby other than simply checking off sightings. As taxonomic lists change, you will need to constantly update your spreadsheet, and over time you will probably want to consider upgrading to a more robust tracking option. As you progress in your hobby, you will probably want to consider a full-feature listing program. While a diary or checklist is fine to record your sightings, they lack the ability to manipulate your data into reports; generate bar graphs; track sightings across years and locations; store photos, audio or video of the sighting; quickly review where and when you've seen this bird before - and so much more. An example of such an option is Birder’s Diary.

Top 3 Tools to Make the Most Out of Your Birding Experiences

Loggerhead or Northern Shrike? You'll need a field guide to help with that, and binoculars to get this good of a look. Have you seen it before? How will you know?

Tool #3: Binoculars

Though some birds may land on the windowsill and patiently wait for you to look them up in your field guide, often the birds you see will be a great distance away. The majority of birds have a comfort zone as to how close they will allow you to be. Typically, the comfort zone of each bird is simply not close enough for proper identification with unassisted human sight. Binoculars are the best way to span this gap and make out the details that will help you identify the birds you see. They bring the birds up close and personal allowing you to properly study them. Some characteristics of birds are faint or minimal, and binoculars can be a great help even if the bird is already close. Binoculars, of course, come in many different styles with many different price points. For beginners, a basic pair of binoculars will be enough. For more advanced birders, you may want to consider investing in a higher quality pair. Choose the best binoculars you can that fit within your budget. You can always upgrade as your intensity and finances allow.

Bonus Tool: Use Birder's Diary

Birder’s Diary is the World's premier listing software for birder's and naturalists, for good reason. For over 20 years, Birder's Diary has been leading the industry in both technology, products, and services. The software uses the top taxonomic lists making it great not only for birders, but for anyone passionate about trees, plants, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, and many other forms of natural beauty. It is much more than a mere listing program allowing you to attach photographs, compare sightings, create a family report, and generate reports. For more information, please browse our features page on our website, or contact us at We also offer a free 30-day trial of our software with no commitment necessary. Birder's Diary warmly welcomes you to the beautiful sport of birding and look forward to helping you make the most of your new hobby.