For Beginning Birders

Binos and a Field Guide

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.

For an excellent field guide, we recommend Peterson Field Guides Birds of Eastern and Central North America by Roger Tory Peterson. Note the grouping of birds in this book, they are primarily in scientific order but deviations are made, so that similar appearing birds are shown together on the same page which helps with identification. Arrows by the individual bird pictures point to important areas of the body that distinguish the species. Accompanying text explains the distinctions. 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.

Join Us!
Birding can certainly be fun and interesting by yourself or with a friend, but with one of our knowledgeable guides, it becomes that much better!
To check out our trips and classes click here or call the NYC Audubon office, 212-691-7483, to find out which class or trip works best for you.

Sharing Your Observations on

Many 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 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.
Our website is protected by DMC Firewall!