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Bird watching tips for beginners


Chickadee print by Carl R. Sams II. From the book, "Stranger in the Woods", by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick.

Below are some great bird watching tips for beginners, and experts too, courtesy of

Hint #1:
You need a field guide for your area. A field guide is a book with pictures of the birds and tips for identifying them. The best book for new birders in the United States is the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds or the Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds.

When you become familiar with the birds in your area, you will want the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America 3rd edition. For young birders, we recommend Peterson First Guide: Birds. It describes 188 common and conspicuous birds and it won’t overwhelm them with too many choices. You will also want to look at the new Stokes Field Guides.

Hint # 2:
You need a binocular to see the birds. You will soon discover an ironic fact. The best birders have the best binoculars — even though they can identify a bird 100 yards away by its silhouette. Newcomers with a cheap binocular see a fuzzy ball of feathers and don’t have a clue which bird it is.

There is an unbelievable difference between a $59 binocular and a $900 binocular. For help in selecting the right binocular, at the right price, see the Bird Watching Binoculars section of (You would need four eyes to use a pair of binoculars!)

See all ten tips at “Beginning Birding – Ten Tips for New Bird Watchers“. Hint #10 is my favorite!

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