Master the Art of Bird-watching
If someone asked you what the number-one sport in the country was, would you guess bird-watching? That’s right — more than 51 million Americans participate in the sport, even if all they ever do is backyard bird-watching. If you want to become serious “birder,” a small investment will put you in business.
According to the National Audubon Society, you’ll need these three basics as bird-watching equipment: binoculars, a field guide and a blank notebook. It’s also handy if you have a friend already experienced in the sport to share his or her helpful tips and show you the ropes. Bird-watching gear is necessary, but more important is your ability to be patient. Bird-watching can be challenging because birds don’t always cooperate. But any birder will tell you that the rewards of being outdoors and connecting with nature outweigh any frustration.
Binoculars for bird-watching
Without a doubt, you’ll get more pleasure from birding if you invest in a good pair of birding binoculars. You’ll want binoculars with a wide field view feature, because beginners usually have difficulty locating the bird they want to see. A wide field view capability will allow you to follow the movement of birds.
The style you choose must also provide a bright image to distinguish bird features even in dim light. Also important is a quick focus feature for the sharpest image no matter how fast the bird is moving. Most serious bird-watchers recommend using a 7 or 8 power level binocular.
Buy quality binoculars
Since your binoculars are the most important bird-watching equipment you’ll own, try to spend as much as you can afford because they should last a very long time. When in doubt, ask other birders what they use and ask the owner if you can try out the binoculars.
Also ask questions like why they chose the model and power level they use and if there are any negative features. Before making a final purchase, test a few different models. It’s important that the one you choose is comfortable and has the specific features you need. Models and features vary greatly.
Backyard bird-watching training
Before you venture away from home on a birding expedition, make sure you know how to use your new binoculars. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be glad you made the effort when you’re in the field and feel competent using them. You won’t want to fumble around and miss your intended bird sightings. Practice in your yard, and ask your kids for help spotting birds to turn your hobby into a family sport.
The following bird-watching technique is helpful:
- Find the bird first with your naked eye.
- While keeping your eyes on the bird, slowly raise your binoculars to your face.
- Adjust the focus and enjoy.
-by Diane Quinn