Starting Out

The best places to start bird watching are your own yard, neighbourhood, local water front or park. These spots have lots of birds that are often easy to see. You could even start a list species at those places. It's great when you spot a new one!

Bird watching does not need lots of special equipment, really all you need is a pencil or pen, some paper and a guide help you identify the countless birds you may see. 

A Field Guide

A good field guide will help you with all the birds you are likely to see. It will also tell you about their range, habitat and behavior. 

Ideally it should be light enough to carry when you go out, so hand guides are better for in the field. Field Guides are just as good, and may give more detailed information. But it must have detailed several images of each species. There will have to be special pieces on the male, female, juvenile plumages as well as the many colour varieties you get with species. 

A Notebook and Pen

These are mainly personal preference, but some birders like Moleskin or police style notebooks. There are also various smart photo apps that can be used for recording your sightings.



Binoculars really help to bring birds up close, even when they are miles away. Even the simple silhouette of a bird can be distinctive enough to give away it's species, but it is often too hard to identify without a good look through a pair of binoculars.

Some people get spotting scopes, which are similar to telescopes used for spotting stars, as their passion grows. These are great with birds around the coast, farmland, and wetlands, but aren't especially good with close range birds like in the bush and garden.

Making a Life-List

Many birders like to keep a long list on every bird they have seen in their life. Some are for small areas. One for the garden is an example. Others focus on countries, such as New Zealand, and then others, and these are always the really long ones, are for the whole world. This is a good way  of keeping the passion of bird-watching going and making trips to places like Miranda or

Kaikoura,  more exciting, and can bring a bit of friendly competition into birding. Don't be ashamed if your list isn't too long. The shorter it is the more you still haven't seen, and the more exciting your next birding adventure will be.


What next?


Join birding clubs, forums and even facebook groups! The more you connect with other birders the more you'll learn. Some great examples are Birds New Zealand (osnz.org.nz) and Birding NZ (birdingnz.net).