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!"
"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."
"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!"