Birding is a fun hobby and so is photography! We’d like to share things we’ve learned along the way to help find birds and learn more about birding, as well as the resources and equipment we use to outfit our trips. If you find there is anything useful or interesting (or even if you don’t!) please click the affiliate links here to help support our blog – it costs you nothing and helps us cover the costs of maintaining our site. Thanks for your support!
First off for birders a great online resource is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s birding website – All About Birds. For all our posts we usually include links to this site for the birds we spot so you can learn more about the birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology also has produced two excellent birding apps, I encourage you to download and use both! The first is the Merlin Bird ID app. This app helps you identify birds, either by adding an image of the bird with the location to start a bird ID or my favorite way, with the Sound ID feature. Think of Shazam for birds – you can start a sound ID and it will listen for bird calls and then start listing the birds making noise nearby. I also like to use the Merlin app to track a life list of all the birds I’ve seen. The second is the eBird app. This app lets you do a checklist of all birds seen at one location. It then shares this information in the app which the Lab uses for research information and also shows other users what birds are in the area! If we see that a rare bird has been spotted in the area we often head to the location to see if we can get a photo.
There are also a lot of resources on Washington State birding at the Washington Ornithological Society website, which also links to the Washington Bird Guide which has maps and writeups about what birds to look for in areas all over the state. You can also purchase it in paperback form here – there is also an ABA Field Guide to Birds of Oregon. As for Idaho the ABA has a Birders Guide to Idaho, and for British Columbia you can try this Birders Guide to British Columbia. Also be sure to follow the ABA Code of Birding Ethics.
For general birding books here is a few we recommend:
- Sibley Birds West
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
- Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America
- Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America
- Golden Guides Birds of North America
Ok so now for the gear! So we first started birding a few years back after I got Leila a Nikon D3500 kit that included a 300mm lens. We soon realized we wanted a bigger lens and purchased a Sigma 600mm. The Nikon has been great and was ‘affordable’ for a started camera. But recently we decided to get a mirrorless camera as they are quieter and can snap faster shots, useful for small birds like the Brown Creeper or Kinglets that don’t sit still. We use both cameras as both have their benefits but we spent a bit more on the mirrorless. We purchased a Sony a7 along with a Sony FE 200-600mm lens and we’ve really liked the results (which you can see in our posts!)
To go birding though you don’t need a camera at all! Leila enjoys taking photo’s but I enjoy simply finding the birds! Currently I use one set of fairly inexpensive HD binoculars and a Gosky Monocular. Some prefer a monocular as it is sometimes easier to focus and steady with just one eye. Also it is easier to user if you’re carrying a camera as well! Many birders like high powered spotting scopes, you set them on a tri-pod and they are angled so a little more comfortable to use, they also have higher magnification so you can spot birds from further away like the Short-eared Owls as they fly low over the fields.
Want to see more birds without going far? Get a good bird feeder and enjoy some back-yard birding! We love watching the birds in our backyard, we prefer a feeder with a more open sitting area as across the US House Finch Eye Disease is common and spreads easier at feeders with small holes where the birds may rub their heads when grabbing a bite. You can get a discount on a good birdfeeder from Kingsyard with this link – Get 15% OFF on Metal Bird Feeder. Want to make your own birdfeeder and recycle at the same time? A Boy Scout from London was kind enough to send us a link with more resources here – Make Your Own Plastic Bottle Birdfeeder.
We hope this information is useful and we’ll continue to update this page as we learn more!