Ornithological observation: what equipment to observe birds?


Bird watching is accessible to everyone. However, without material, a lot of detail escapes. Especially since most birds are cautious and leave a good distance between themselves and those they identify as a potential threat. Also, a minimum of equipment is necessary to observe them and fully understand what they are doing.

Equipment for ornithological observation: quality above all

For a bird watching enthusiast, beginner or experienced, three things are really essential:

  • a pair of binoculars,
  • a notebook,
  • an ornithology guide.

The pair of binoculars is your tool main so as not to skimp on its quality. A pair of binoculars that didn’t perform well enough would only fuel your frustration at not being able to properly see the entire scene unfolding before your eyes. By not satisfying your thirst for discovery and knowledge, you risk giving up bird watching for the wrong reasons, which would be a shame.
If you tell yourself that a novice birdwatcher doesn’t need top-of-the-line equipment, you are dismissing the fact that you will necessarily progress and become an increasingly seasoned bird watcher. When it comes to optics, quality and price are closely linked, but acquiring the right equipment from the start will prove to be an investment that will pay off after several years of bird watching.

The field notebook allows you to record your notes and make sketches. You then have the choice between 2 options. Either you opt for a draft notebook in which you write in wood pencil your hot observations, notes that you recopy, once back home, in a more beautiful notebook, or you opt for a notebook waterproof, in combination with an “all weather” black ballpoint pen that allows you to write in extreme conditions. The second option is more expensive.

Finally, the ornithology guide provides the elements necessary to understand and name what you observe, but also to prepare for your outing. Unlike the pair of binoculars, it must be adapted to your level of practice and knowledge. Once you have toured your guide, you can acquire a new, more complete one.

Choose the knowledge organization that works best for you so you can quickly find the information you need when the time comes.

Pictures are very useful for making quick comparisons with what is in front of you. We advise you to favor the illustrations to photos because they paradoxically provide more objective information, and therefore more transposable to all situations. There are many applications on smartphones but by choosing this type of support, you run the risk of a technical problem, which could deprive you of important information.

The weight of ornithological observation equipment

Depending on the living conditions of the birds you wish to observe, you may have to travel long distances or walk difficult paths. Also, the lightness of the material can be an important selection criterion. The lighter your bag, the more enjoyable the hike it takes to get to the observation spot. So if you hesitate between two pieces of equipment, opt for the lighter of the two!

The bulk often goes with the weight, but not always. It may also be important to measure how much space the equipment will take in your package.

2 other criteria for choosing your pair of binoculars

The exit pupil is one of the criteria that defines the quality of a pair of binoculars. This is an important criterion if you want to observe night owls. It is the size of the opening in the optics through which light passes to be transferred to your eye.

You probably know that the pupil of our eye expands and retracts depending on the amount of light available. The higher the binoculars exit pupil big, the better their quality. The exit pupil is calculated by dividing the size of the objective lens by the magnification factor.

It is also advisable to choose binoculars equipped with retractable rubber eyecups as they allow the distance between the eye and the eyepiece of the binoculars to be adjusted. This constitutes additional comfort for spectacle wearers.

The higher the magnification of the binoculars, the greater the bird watching distance can be. For the practice of bird watching, magnifications of 8x to 10x are recommended because the binoculars remain bright and without being too heavy. If you choose higher performance in this area, it will be to the detriment of the visual field which will be reduced. In addition, at high magnifications, vibrations due to hand tremors interfere with observation. If you persist in wanting a magnification greater than 10x, it is essential to use a tripod, unless you ensure that the binoculars have a built-in stabilizer optical images: in both cases, the equipment becomes heavier.

How to shop?

It is recommended to choose a store specialized in ornithological material. If in doubt, you will benefit from the advice of a competent professional. Online stores allow you to get an idea of ​​everything that exists on the market and the prices charged. However, this channel does not allow you to try out the hardware. Also, once you have selected three or four products that seem to suit your use and your wallet, you can go to the store to handle the equipment and chat with a salesperson who will redirect your choice if necessary.

What about your outfit?

An appropriate outfit will contribute to the success of your observations. There is no particular equipment to advise you except to choose loose and comfortable clothes, in dark colors and suitable for everyone.

Warm clothes, gloves and a hat will allow you to stay in the cold for hours without moving. Quality must also be there for the garment to be effective. It may be helpful to have a change of clothes. Waterproof hiking boots, as well as warm socks, will make you off-road and ready to devote yourself entirely to birding.
In high temperatures, you will lighten your outfit as much as possible, without uncovering yourself too much, and take care to protect yourself against the sun and mosquitoes.

Finally a detailed map will prevent you from getting lost and will allow you to precisely memorize your places of observation.

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