- Tech

High-Tech Bird Watching

There are plenty of modern gadgets and equipment of real value to bird watchers looking to get the most out of their experiences. Many will have their own favourites and preferred techniques of receiving and sharing information about birds with fellow bird watchers, or even recording their bird watching discoveries to be shared with others. While some of the methods used aren’t quite suited for bird watching tours, all of them can have a useful place in the bird watcher’s arsenal, no matter if you’re a dedicated enthusiast, or just a casual spotter of local birds. Here are a few things that could be useful to any bird watcher, or make you want to become one!

Common Equipment

Many bird watchers swear by carrying binoculars, a spotting scope with a sturdy tripod, and one (or more!) field guides specific to the region they’re based in or visiting. These devices are necessary for distant observation of many bird species, and are easily stored and carried on a bird watcher’s person in a large bag or case. They’re easy to take along on bird watching tours, and having familiar and trusted equipment along while visiting a new location makes the whole experience just a little bit smoother and more enjoyable. In the case of binoculars, though everyone will have their favourites, many are manufactured specifically for the hobby’s requirements.


One aspect of watching that isn’t implied in the name of the hobby – and often takes a lot of people by surprise when they learn about it – is what might be termed ‘bird listening’. Recognition of bird calls and other noises is an important part of a bird watcher’s hobby. Sound information can assist in the locating and identifying of different types, and even genders of birds. Developments in sound technology have resulted in very powerful pocket recorders, and the non-linear nature of digital storing means the ability to select and replay any desired individual sound is right at your fingertips on bird watching tours.


Photography has always been a part of watching, and almost everyone owns a camera that could be suitable for photography on bird watching tours. In the past, the cost of good-quality cameras and telephoto lenses often made this a niche aspect of bird watching. However, with digital cameras becoming more widespread, often used in conjunction with a spotting scope, this has now become a much more widespread aspect of the hobby. The same trend applied to video cameras – with smaller digital versions available, the ability to record not only sounds and likenesses, but also the movement patterns of birds, has made video cameras a much bigger part of bird watching tours and trips.

Remote Bird Watching

While many people will swear there is no adequate substitute for physical watching tours, these new technologies are allowing bird watching to take place over the internet, using robotic camera installations in key areas and remote wildlife habitats. These techniques are currently being used in an attempt to take the first photographs of the rare ivory-billed woodpecker.