For Beginning Birders
Birding binoculars are your basic tool. Yes, you absolutely need them. Do not attempt to watch birds with opera glass-type binoculars because you will not have a good experience. For birding you need 7x35 or 8x40 binoculars. Binoculars are described by their power. The first number gives you the degree to which they magnify a distant object, for instance - 7x, 8x or 10x. The second number is the diameter of the distant (objective) lens in millimeters - the greater the number, the more light comes in.
Make sure there is one central knob for focusing and that you can focus on objects within 15 feet. Buy the best you can afford because it will make your experience of birdwatching that much more enjoyable.
Some retail and online shops let you try out binoculars before you make a purchase.
It's good to see how they feel (with your facial structure) before purchasing.
A spotting telescope might be purchased as well, for observing waterfowl and shorebirds at great distances. 20x to 30x is the most useful range. A sturdy tripod is a must for supporting your "scope" also.
An even smaller, lighter and a more basic way to get you going is the Golden Books Eastern Birds by James Coe, which includes excellent drawings and information. Another field guide option with clear illustrations, is The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America by David Sibley. Whichever guide you choose, be sure to read the introduction which gives important information on habitat, identification clues of size, shape, behavior and plumage.
To check out our trips and classes click here or call Tod Winston in the NYC Audubon office, 212-691-7483, to find out which class or trip works best for you.
Sharing Your Observations on ebird.orgMany birders like to keep records of their sightings, or a "list". If you choose to do this, you can help further science by sharing your list on ebird.com. This website is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The observations of each participant join those of others to create a database used by a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. To read more about this exciting source of information, click here.