A beginners guide to birding
You love the outdoors, but have you ever considered bird watching?
“Birding,” as aficionados affectionately call it, is the activity of watching birds in their natural habitats. Hanging out with your feathered friends in the woods, a park, or your backyard is quite leisurely, and can be very educational. If you’re intrigued, you’re in luck because like running, camping and hiking -- it's always bird watching season.
Taking it up means gearing up, and for birding you’ll need a good pair of binoculars. “Field glasses” are essential to the best birding experiences; without them, it’d be like going for a run in your socks or biking on flat tires. Just not quite the same. As you shop around online for your ideal pair, the two main features you’ll need to think about are lens magnification and lens diameter. Both specifications are represented by numbers and combine to give you your field of vision and your magnification capacity.
The higher the magnification, the higher the price point, typically. Binoculars magnification ranges from 6 to 12 or higher and somewhere in the middle, closer to 10, is suitable for birding. You’ll need to determine how detailed you want to get with your birding. Perhaps you want to focus on a specific species and study them using your birding book (we recommend The Sibley Guide if you'd prefer to identify birds via drawings, or The Kaufman Field Guide if you prefer photography). Or maybe you just want to see things a bit closer.
The next number is diameter measured in millimetres. Diameters range from 30mm up to 80mm. The smaller, the more limited your field of vision will be. But small means easy to carry and handle. So, like with magnification, you’ll need to figure out the kind of birding you want to do. Long range? Short? Big outing with some hiking? Or just kicking back? All practical things to consider while shopping around, comparing specs and prices.
And similar to the need for binoculars in order to enhance your birding experiences is the need to be in the right place. If you can manage it, drive or hike out to your national park to observe an array of species and witness bird migrations. Or if circumstances keep you at home, take a gander in your backyard: you might be surprised at the rarities nesting and staying cool in your trees and shrubs.
Bird watching is the type of outdoor activity that suits just about everybody, and it can take the whole day or be tagged onto other adventures like hiking, canoeing, fishing, and camping. Just don’t forget your field glasses and the proper gear for enjoying the outdoors, no matter the weather.