Greenville County Bird Club

One of the great things about birding is that you can enjoy it with only a minimal investment in a pair of binoculars and a guidebook for species identification. Here are some tips for beginners to help you get the most enjoyment from birding...


Binoculars are likely to be the single most important purchase a birder can make. Factors to consider in making a decision include weight, ease of focus, and amount of eye relief for eyeglass wearers. Generally, birders purchase binocs with 7x, or 8x magnification because at higher powers, it can be harder to hold the instrument steady, the image may be less bright, and the field-of-view narrower. Because this is your single most important purchase as a birder, buy the best pair you can afford! A useful decision-making guide can be found on the BirdWatcher's Guide web site:

The Do's & Dont's of Choosing Binoculars
by Bill Thompson, III, editor Bird Watcher's Digest

Field Guide & Notebook:

Birders at all levels of experience use a field guide and notebook. Find a compact field guide that you are comfortable with... there are many to choose from. Larger reference texts such as Sibley's guides are helpful for study and review. A notebook is used for recording a list of species seen, descriptions of unusual or rare birds, and journal information about the habitat and conditions.

Do's and Don'ts:

Always keep conversation to a minimum and move cautiously. If you hear a sound or notice movement, your goal is to locate, identify, and observe the bird without frightening it away. Watch for signs of alarm in birds: a freeze in posture, a cocked head, a half-raising of the wings, and so on. These tell you to stop moving until the bird calms down or to back away if necessary. Study an unfamiliar bird thoroughly before consulting your field guide, and take notes if necessary.

Birding Code of Ethics:

Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first. Please read the American Birding Association's Birding Code of Ethics (PDF).