Tips for Beginners

For detailed information about getting started in bird watching, request a free copy of "Bird Watching Basics" with your Wings Over Florida application packet or view an on line version.  Below is a very quick review of what you need to get started.


Choosing Binoculars

  • Bad binoculars cause eye strain and headaches so choose your first pair carefully.

  • Expect to spend at least thirty to forty dollars for a pair that are useable for bird watching.

  • Small "compact" binoculars (especially those under $100) are not recommended for beginners.  Their small field of view makes spotting birds more difficult.

  • "7 X 35" (image magnified 7 times, 35 mm objective lens) or "8 X 40" binoculars are a good size to start with.

  • You should see one single circular image through your binoculars.  If you do not, the binoculars are either out of alignment or the distance between the eyepieces is too large.

Field Guides and Bird Identification

  • Read the introduction to your field guide and learn about the basic "field marks" of birds before trying to identify anything.

  • Field guides generally follow a "phylogenetic order" grouping large water birds together first in your guide, large land birds second, and smaller songbirds in the last half of your field guide.

  • There are many guides to choose from.  Below is a list of some of the most popular.

Title:
Author:
Edition:
A Field Guide to the Birds.  Eastern/Central
Roger Tory Peterson
4th edition, 1980. Houghton Mifflin Co.
Title:
Author:
Edition:
Stokes Field Guide to the Birds.  Eastern Region.
Donald and Lillian Stokes
1st edition, 1996. Little Brown and Co.
Title:
Author:
Edition:
All the Birds of North America.
Jack L. Griggs
1st edition, 1997. American Bird Conservancy.
Title:
Author:
Edition:
Field Guide to the Birds of North America
Mary B. Dickinson, editor.
3rd edition, 1999. National Geographic Society.
Title:
Author:
Edition:
Focus Guide to the Birds of North America
Kenn Kaufman
1st edition, 2000. Houghton Mifflin Co.
Title:
Author:
Edition:
The Sibley Guide to Birds
David Allen Sibley
1st edition, 2000. Knopf

 

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