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Start Hawkwatching Today!

H. Moro
The list author says: "You don't need a lot to start hawkwatching. But a few items, along with guidance from a competent observer, will prove indispensable to your enjoyment.

Most importantly, you'll need a decent pair of binoculars. You won't need the top grade to enjoy yourself, but do get as good a pair as you can afford as soon as you can. You'll also need a good field guide, and at least one book specific to hawk identification. Your books are as essential as your optics, so make it your goal to read them, know them, and to have them at hand.

HMANA's HawkCount website is a comprehensive resource for hawkwatch sites all over North America, so make it your first port of call on the web. Your local chapter of the National Audubon Society should be able to help you contact other hawkwatchers in your area. Many locales have more than one hawkwatch nearby, so feel free to spend time at other sites before settling in.

Your personal comfort is very important in the field, so dress appropriately for the weather. A backpack or belt bag will be helpful for carrying your new books, a lens cleaning kit, and some light snacks to the watch site. Bring plenty of water, especially in the hotter days of late spring or early fall. A hat or visor will keep the sun off your face. Keep a pad of paper and a couple pencils with you to record your time and the things you learn in the field.

Finally, regardless of your level of experience, don't be afraid to get out there and enjoy yourself. I wish you spirited flight on your next trip!"
The Sibley Guide to Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds
"There are other good field guides, but this is the one to have when hawkwatching.  Everyone should have a copy."
Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors
Hawks in Flight: The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors
"Make this the first book on raptor identification you read."
Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors In Flight
Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors In Flight
"An indispensable supplement to Hawks in Flight."
Sibley's Birding Basics
Sibley's Birding Basics
"This little primer will do wonders for your observations skills.  Please don't pass on this one!"
How Birds Migrate: 2nd Edition
How Birds Migrate: 2nd Edition
"Understanding bird migration will greatly enrich your time spent outside."
Hawks Aloft: The Story of Hawk Mountain
Hawks Aloft: The Story of Hawk Mountain
"No other book quite captures the spirit of autumn hawk flights.  Even if you don't visit Hawk Mountain, you'll be keen on this book!"
Raptors of Eastern North America: The Wheeler Guides
Raptors of Eastern North America: The Wheeler Guides
"Possibly the best reference on North American raptors available.  (A beautiful book that is now, regrettably, out of print!)  There is a companion volume for Western North America."
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (The Crossley ID Guides)
"Not a guide as such, but really a study aid that will help you develop a feel for the "gestalt" of many bird species as  they are often encountered in the field.  (You will soon begin to identify all kinds of birds at a distance, not just raptors!)  The guide covering Western North America is supposedly forthcoming."
Canon 10x42 L Image Stabilization Waterproof Binoculars
Canon 10x42 L Image Stabilization Waterproof Binoculars
"Possibly the best binocular you can buy for hawkwatching, period.  The superb optics, image stabilization, and large field of view are worth the heft."
Nikon Lens Pen Pro Kit
Nikon Lens Pen Pro Kit
"Wiping coated lens surfaces with your shirt can be an expensive mistake!  This is a good value for a lot of kit."
Rite In The Rain - All-Weather Pocket Journal (4" x 6")
Rite In The Rain - All-Weather Pocket Journal (4" x 6")
"Water-resistant paper doesn't tear as easily as regular paper.  These notepads put up with abuse and fit easily into belt bags and pant pockets. Don't bother with special all-weather pens.  A pencil is inexpensive and more reliable!"
Thermos Vacuum Insulated 25-Ounce Compact Stainless Steel Beverage Bottle (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Thermos Vacuum Insulated 25-Ounce Compact Stainless Steel Beverage Bottle (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
"These will keep a hot beverage all day, although two, sometimes three days isn't unusual."