Complete Bird Watching Equipment List (Must-Haves For Birders)

Complete Bird Watching Equipment List (Must-Haves For Birders)

So you’ve decided to finally give in to your inner desire to become a bird watcher. The call of the twitchers has been too great to resist, and now you’re hooked. Before you go rushing out into the wilderness in search of birds, there’s a few things you’re going to need. Read on to find out exactly what you will need to become a fully signed up member of the bird watching community.

The Essential Equipment You’ll Need For Bird Watching

In reality there’s nothing to stop you just going out with nothing but your naked eyes and some patience to watch the birds. But to see more birds and to get up close without scaring them away, there are a few things worth taking with you. Let’s have a look at what you’ll need:



A good pair of binoculars is essential. With the right pair of binoculars you’ll not only see the birds but you’ll be able to see them long enough to identify what species they are. A decent pair of binoculars won’t cost you the earth, but they will get you on the road to serious twitchery.

 For  bird watching, a 10×42 pair of binoculars will do just fine; this means you’ll be able to see your feathered friends 10 times closer than they actually are and your field of vision will be good enough to view them before you hone in close. It’s also worth getting a decent strap for your binoculars to save on carrying them.

Spotting Scope

Spotting Scope

Better yet consider buying a spotting scope, spotting scopes have a more powerful magnification than binoculars plus there are some scopes that have zoom lens. With a magnification range of 15x to 60x, spotting scopes can really get you up close and personal with the tree dwellers. We suggest you start off with a reasonable pair of binoculars and then once the hobby really grabs you progress to a decent spotting scope.



If you are going to use a spotting scope, it’s advisable to use a tripod. This will ensure you get a good view of the birds you are watching. The thing with magnification is, anything higher than 12x magnification will cause the natural shaking that we all have to be exaggerated so much that you won’t see anything.

Many birders also use a tripod when using binoculars, (they save your arms from aching) so they’re definitely worth investing in. 

Camera (Optional)

Digital Camera

If you want to capture some of the birds you’ve seen it’s worth taking a decent camera with you. You can link the camera to your spotting scope and do some digiscoping. That way you’ll get some really great images.

Field Guide

There is nothing so wonderful as a tree full of birds, and a field guide at hand to identify the species.  A field guide is a book or pamphlet that describes all the birds that are usually found in that particular area. Often there is one bird to a page, a picture (photograph) or illustration of that bird (for identification purposes) and a description of their usual habitat. There is also very often a map giving the main area you’re likely to spot them. Most areas have local field guides and they are usually written by someone who lives locally and is full of local knowledge.

General Bird Identification Book

These are usually for an entire country, and as such are less in depth than the field guides. But they usually cover the bird species in more detail. Often with colour pictures of both genders of the species and general descriptions of habitats and likely feeding places.



A checklist is in many ways similar to a field guide only with much less information except the birds found in the area. Checklists are handy for keeping a record of how many varieties of birds you have spotted. Most twitchers keep a few checklists handy depending on where they are travelling to or from.

Sturdy walking boots or shoes

You will inevitably be walking through wet, muddy ground even on the driest day of the year. Most birders end up off the path and in the mud looking for that elusive bird that completes their list. So it’s always best to wear a decent pair of worn in boots or shoes. Preferably waterproof and comfortable as you will be walking for some time.

A Wide Brimmed Hat

A hat is an essential piece of kit, either to shade you from the sun or (more likely) keep the rain from your head. 


Just a small backpack, big enough to carry your birding book, field guides, checklists, notepad and pen, hat, raincoat and anything else you might think you need. Remember, you’re going to have to carry this pack so don’t get too carried away loading it up.

Notepad And Pen

It’s always handy to have a notepad, especially if you’re new to bird watching. You can take note of where you saw whichever birds you saw, describe the ones you couldn’t identify etc. Then once the bird has flown away you can quickly write a brief description to compare with at a later date.

Bird Watching

A Lightweight Raincoat

It might start out as a sunny early morning walk through the woods, but remember in the UK it can often turn into a rainy afternoon. Keeping a lightweight raincoat in your backpack is always a good idea, along with your rain hat.

That’s pretty much everything you will need for a bird watching expedition so get out there and enjoy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What equipment do birders use?

Basically all you need is a pair of binoculars and a notepad and pen.

What are the things to take care of while watching birds?

Take care to be quiet, birds are very easily frightened by loud noises and sudden movements.

What is the fear of birds called?

The fear of birds is called ornithophobia.