Beginners’ Guide to Birding (The Big Year)

birdwatching movie


This post comes courtesy of the PR folks for The Big Year. I’m sharing because it’s good info, and also because I heart Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, while my children think Jack Black is the funniest man since whoever invented the whoopie cushion. We kinda can’t wait to see it.

the big year

Comedic Icons Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson Star in the Hilarious Outdoor Adventure Coming to Blu-ray and DVD January 31!

Was your New Year’s resolution a pact to yourself to get outdoors and make 2012 your Big Year? In this beginner’s guide we’ll direct you to where you can find online field guides, deals on binoculars, regional checklists and new birding buddies to go on trips with. Grab a notebook and start practicing your birdcalls and soon you will be having the biggest year ever!

Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson portray three men from very different walks of life, facing a mid-life crisis, a work-life crisis and a no-life crisis. In the biggest competition of their lives, they undertake an unforgettable trek through North America, engaging in hilarious and bizarre adventures and forming friendships that will last a lifetime!

Online Field Guides

field guide birdsMany hardcore birders like to have physical field guides that they can take with them, and many people employ the use of regional field guides, as they offer more specific advice. As you are starting your birding adventure, try using a site like, which allows you to search for species in many different ways (including by region and by appearance). What Bird also has handy apps for e-readers and smart phones, which allow you to access their immense database on the go!


birdwatching binocularsIf you want to get serious about birding, you need a proper pair of binoculars. When you’re searching for your first pair, you need to pay attention to seven things: magnification, objective lens size, close focus, field of view, roof vs. porro prism, eye relief, and the 3 Ws (weight, waterproof and warranty). Go to for help choosing the type of binoculars that are right for you, as well as suggestions on where to buy them for the best price.

Regional Checklists

blue birdThe best way to start birding is to observe (and learn to recognize) the birds in your own backyard! To do this, you should consult a checklist of the birds that appear in your region. One of the best sites to visit when looking for information on species in your region is Wild Birds has each state in a United States (as well as most of Canada) represented on their site, with comprehensive checklists, reading lists and relevant links included.

Birding Buddies

the big yearThe best way to find a buddy to bird with is to join different groups for birding enthusiasts. Two of the largest birding organizations in the United States are the American Birding Association and the National Audubon Society. Each of these larger, national organizations can steer you towards either region-specific sectors of their organization, or smaller birding clubs in your area. You could also use to find birders in your area, and local events or trips to take part in.




Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post, just thought it was clever. A little more about the movie on Family Fun Delaware.



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