Where to find the best birding tools: Binoculars, houses, baths and more
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Birdwatching is a growing hobby. According to a 2016 survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, about 45 million birders (16 years or older), or about 20% of the U.S. population, take up the hobby. These numbers may now be higher as more people have been practicing outdoor activity during the pandemic.
The beauty of birdwatching is its versatility. This can be done in the countryside or in the city. It can be done in your garden or on an exotic vacation. It has universal appeal. More than 440 birds are on Ohio’s official species list, with 200 species regularly breeding here.
With equipment and travel, birding can be complicated and expensive. Or with a few backyard additions, it can be easy and inexpensive. Perhaps the most useful tools are binoculars and bird guides. And, maybe, cameras. And nesting boxes, baths…and more. Once you’re hooked, the list of supplies grows.
Check out a roundup of the best birding products below.
Field guides and apps are popular for educating beginners. Both new and experienced birders enjoy Merlin, an app developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for its sounds and range maps. BirdNet, another popular app, has additional benefits. Users can record a bird song and the app identifies the bird.
Note: This may not be the right time to add or use bird feeders given the outbreak of avian flu.
Read on for garden and travel tools for beginners and experienced birders.
These powerful, lightweight and waterproof Adorrgon binoculars ($49.86, originally $99.89) come with a phone adapter and tripod. They are versatile and allow you to take pictures when you find something special.
Use the 12X Zoom Digital Camera Binoculars ($199) for a closer view of the birds and capture the images in high definition.
Take the kids out with these small, compact, high-definition binoculars ($19.99). Encourage their interest in the outdoors, the environment and science.
These entry-level Hontry binoculars ($29.75) are designed to comfortably fit your budget and your face. The ergonomic design and stable grip make it easy to focus and can be folded into the palm of your hand for easy transport.
Waterproof and powerful, the magnifying power of the Bissot 20×50 Binoculars for Adults ($39.99), helps you see the feathers and features of the smallest birds.
Binoculars are available in a wide range of prices and capacities
Bird Watching Books
The best-selling five-star backyard guide, National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America, 2nd Edition ($16.97), is written for both casual and experienced birders. It includes 150 of the most common and interesting birds in North America.
Get to know the 55 most common birds of the Midwest in Midwestern Birds: Backyard Guide ($10.28). You will learn about local bird watching, feeding and landscaping.
Find backyard guides for other parts of the United States
In Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song ($29.90), author and ornithologist Les Beletsky describes 250 birds. The books come with a digital audio player that plays a song for each bird.
My Birding Journal: A Birding Journal for Birders and Bird Watchers ($12.99 hardcover) makes a great gift for bird lovers. They can record, even draw, what they see.
The research possibilities are endless. Check out these books.
Nesting boxes and nesting material
Start with your basic wooden birdhouse ($18.99) to attract wrens and finches. You can paint the exterior of this tiny house to match your personal aesthetic.
Use the included suction cups to mount this Conservation Window Birdhouse ($19.99) to a house window. Then watch the birds through the transparent back panel as they go through the nesting cycle.
Bluebirds are back from the brink of extinction. This sturdy, weather-resistant Bluebird House ($29.99) has plenty of vents and opens easily for annual cleanings.
If you live near water, the Kalene Birdhouse Condo ($252.99) is a great way to attract and house Purple Swallows. These members of the swallow family depend on human-provided housing. They eat flying insects during the day.
Hummingbirds use soft fibers to build their nests. Hang this wire nesting heart ($15.99) to attract and provide materials to local birds. Place it near a feeder for best effect.
Watch the birds bathe in your backyard in a cast iron pedestal birdbath ($89.99). Ornate leaf embossing and two bronze bird figurines attached to the edge make this garden art.
Sunnydaze Bird Bath ($219) is a fiberglass-reinforced concrete sculpture that adds an elegant touch to your patio, yard, or garden.
This Red Ceramic Pedestal Birdbath with Two Bird Figures ($76.28) has a shallow, wide bowl that provides plenty of room for several small birds to drink and bathe together.
Delight your feathered friends with a birdbath
Let the world know you’re a birder with the Easy Distracted by Birds Hoodie ($28.95). The cotton/polyester top is available in several colors.
To borrow (and twist) a line from “Game of Thrones,” pick up this “I watch birds and I know things” t-shirt ($17.99).
Who needs cats? ! Wear a Crazy Bird Lady t-shirt ($15.99) to the next hike in the woods.