Spotting birds

Once you know the tricks to finding birds, you'll soon find them everywhere!

When you first start out, it's best to stay stationary at one place. Listen for bird calls, and look for movement of foliage and shadows on the ground. Birds are most active during early mornings and evenings.

Joining a local bird watching group is also a great way to learn from other birders.

Identifying birds

Once you've spotted a bird, you most likely want to know what it is. Merlin Bird ID is a great app made by Cornel Lab of Ornithology that allows you to identify birds by size/color/location, photo, or sound. Google reverse image can also help.


Birdwatching can be enjoyed without any equipment, but having a good pair of binoculars will certainly enhance your experience.


The two key numbers that describe binoculars is the magnification, and the objective lens diameter. A 8x40 binoculars means 8x magnification, with a 40mm objective lens diameter.

We'll try to summarize these concepts, but if you want learn in greater depth, Nikon has a great series of articles.


The larger the magnification, the closer birds will appear, but your field of view will shrink. Too small, and you'll have a hard time seeing small birds far away, but too large, you might have difficulties finding and tracking birds as they move. 1x magnification is what you see with your eye unaided. Generally a 8x magnification is recommended for birding.

For photographers, a 1x binocular magnification is roughly equivalent to a camera lens of 50mm focal length (for 35mm sensors). Therefore a 8x binoculars ≃ 400mm lens.

Objective lens diameter

The objective lens is the lens closest to your subject (opposite end to the one you're looking through). A large diameter allows more light to enter, and therefore produces a brighter image allowing you to spot birds in dense forest or at dusk and dawn. However large lenses means heaver and bigger binoculars. A good balance bewteen size and brightness is a diameter between 32mm and 42mm.

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