binoculars for beginners

2 men watching birds with binoculars and a bird scope.
Photo courtesy of Eric Liner/Cornell Lab.

Originally published October 2011; updated December 2022.

It’s one of the first eye-openers for people who are just starting to tát pick up birdwatching: the experience of hearing a birder đường dây nóng out names of birds in quick succession as a flock passes by, seemingly without looking. But lượt thích anything, it’s mainly practice—and it’s surprisingly easy to tát learn. You can watch (and listen to) birds pretty much anytime you’re outside. You mainly just need patience, careful observation, and a willingness to tát let the wonder and beauty of the natural world overtake you. Here are some tips on how to tát get started:

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9 Tips for Beginning Birdwatchers

1. Find a Great Pair of Binoculars

Your enjoyment of birds depends hugely on how great they look through your binoculars, ví make sure you’re getting a big, bright, crisp picture through yours. In recent years excellent binoculars have become available at surprisingly low prices. So while binoculars under $100 may seem tempting, it’s truly worth it to tát spend $200 to tát $300 for vastly superior images as well as better warranties, waterproof housing, and a great feel.

Great models for beginning birders include the Opticron Oregon, Celestron Nature DX ED, and Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42. (See our reviews of affordable full-size binoculars and affordable compact binoculars here.) In general, 8-power binoculars are a nice mix of magnification while still allowing you a wide enough view that your bird won’t be constantly hopping out of your image. Here’s more advice about buying optics without breaking the ngân hàng.

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2. Pack a Field Guide

Once you start seeing birds, you’ll start wondering what they are. An informal poll of my coworkers showed a clear field guide favorite: the Sibley Guide, in either its full North America version or smaller, more portable Eastern and Western editions. Other useful guides are Kaufman’s, Peterson’s, and the National Geographic guide. Don’t forget that on the Web you can get information and sounds for more than vãn 600 species for không lấy phí on our All About Birds site or on your phone with the không lấy phí Merlin Bird ID tiện ích.

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3. Fill Up Your Bird Feeders

With binoculars for viewing and a guide to tát help you figure out what’s what, the next step is to tát bring the birds into your backyard, where you can get a good look at them. Bird feeders come in all types: we recommend starting with a black-oil sunflower feeder. Add a suet feeder in winter and a hummingbird feeder in summer (or all year in parts of the continent). From there you can diversify to tát millet, thistle seeds, mealworms, and fruit to tát attract other types of species. Our Feeding Birds section is a great place to tát learn about this.

4. Get Closer With a Spotting scope

By this point in our list, you’ve got pretty much all the gear you need to tát be a birder… until you start looking at those ducks on the far side of the pond, or shorebirds in mudflats, or that Golden Eagle perched on a tree limb a quarter-mile away. Though they’re not cheap, spotting scopes are indispensable for getting those last few clues about a species ID—or to tát simply revel in intricate plumage details that can be brought to tát life only with a 20x to tát 60x zoom. And scopes, lượt thích binoculars, are coming down in price while going up in quality.

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5. Consider a Camera

With the proliferation of digital gadgetry, you can take photos anywhere, anytime. Snapping even a blurry photo of a bird can help you or others clinch its ID. And birds are innately artistic creatures—more and more amateur photographers are connecting with birds through taking gorgeous pictures. There’s also the popular pursuit of digiscoping—pointing your camera through a spotting scope or binoculars.

6. Practice Skills

Once you’re outside and surrounded by birds, we recommend practicing a four-step approach to tát identification. First you judge the bird’s size and shape; then look for its main color pattern; take note of its behavior; and factor in what habitat it’s in. We’ve got không lấy phí online tutorials to tát let you practice each of these skills, and a không lấy phí Inside Birding Clip series that walks you through each one.

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7. Keep Records of what you’ve seen

We’re not saying you need to tát become a lister—a birding term for people who love (some might say are obsessed with) compiling lists of the species they’ve seen. But writing down what you see can yield great benefits—think of notes as a kind of diary with a focus, chronicling the days of your life through the birds you’ve seen and places you’ve been. Many people keep their records online in our không lấy phí eBird project, which keeps track of every place and day you go bird watching, allows you to tát enter notes and share sightings with friends, and explore the data all eBirders have entered.

8. Explore with Apps

If you have a điện thoại thông minh, you can carry a bookshelf in your pocket. Most of the field guides mentioned above are available as apps. Merlin Bird ID can help you ID more than vãn 7,500 species across the planet and can even identify birds by their songs in some parts of the world. eBird Mobile can keep track of your checklists and help you find your way to tát birds you want to tát see. And our All About Birds species guide also works on mobile devices, giving you access to tát không lấy phí ID information and sound recordings straight from your phone’s Internet browser.

9. Make Connections

Birdwatching can be a relaxing solo pursuit—a walk in the woods decorated with bird sightings. But birding is also a social endeavor, and the best way to tát learn is from other people. Get connected with your local birding club—there’s a decent chance that someone’s leading a bird walk near you this weekend—and they’d love to tát have you come along.