The warm weather has moved in and, with it, bright sunshine and a cool breeze blowing by every now and then. It can only mean one thing: Mother Nature is practically begging you to spend some quality time with her. (And, who are we to say no?) Chances are, you already have plenty of activities to do when you’re hanging out in the great outdoors. But, if you want to add another hobby to your list, why not consider birding?
Perusing Mother Nature’s unofficial pet is not only a great way to become acquainted with your surroundings, but studies show that it can also improve your cardiovascular health, boost your reflexes, and increase your patience. But, like most new hobbies, you’ll need to pick up some gear to make your time bird watching as enjoyable as possible. To help, we’ve rounded up the best bird watching gear on the market. Or, if you want to have your feathered friends come to you, we added a few of our favorite birding supplies, too.
Best Bird Book: National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America
BUY IT: $19.39; amazon.com
Before you break out the binoculars or install that feeding system, it’s a good idea to understand which birds to look out for. If you’re new to the hobby, National Geographic’s guide is the first of many birding supplies to add to your cart. National Geographic has been the long-standing expert of everything Mother Nature has to offer, and this second edition guide provides an up-close and personal look at 150 bird species that reign supreme in North America.
Best Traditional Bird House: Westhouse Bird House for Outside
BUY IT: $54.99; amazon.com
If you want to turn your backyard into a bird-friendly oasis, you’ll need to have somewhere for them to rest. (Yes, all that flying isn’t as easy as it looks.) That’s where Westhouse’s bird house comes in. Made in a polyresin—and finished in a shiny brass hue—this option is designed to hold up nicely against the elements and give your garden a dose of whimsical charm. Large enough to hold a few wild birds, this option has a domed roof to protect your winged friends from inclement weather. Rounding out this pick are three metal stakes, which will keep your bird house from blowing over.
Best Hanging Bird House: Nature’s Way Bird Products CWH1 Cedar Wren House
BUY IT: $26.44; amazon.com
Want to take your birding supplies to new heights? Consider adding Nature’s Way bird house to your cart. Not only does this option protect birds from the elements, but it can also be hung from a hook or tree branch. (If you want to lure in a bunch of birds, hang a few houses on the same tree.) Another perk? This quaint bird house is made with cedar wood, which naturally resists rots and pesky insects.
Best Bird Feeder: Ashman Online Store Deluxe Bird Feeding Station
BUY IT: $39.99; amazon.com
If birds are going to spend some quality time lounging in your backyard, why not offer some snacks? A feeding station is a mainstay of birding supplies—and with over 2,400 positive reviews on Amazon, Ashman Online Store’s option does not disappoint. There are four hangers to prop up suspended bird houses or feeders, not to mention a designated bath and mesh tray for extra food. With so much room for your feathered friends, this option proves that there’s strength in numbers.
Best Hanging Bird Feeder: Perky-Pet 1 312 Panorama Bird Feeder
BUY IT: $24.39; amazon.com
Double up on bird feeders with the help of Perk-Pet’s option. Decked out with a large seed tray and circular perch, this feeder will attract birds like cardinals, titmice, and nuthatches from all angles. The feeder itself can hold up to two pounds of bird food, so you’ll only need to refill it every so often. Of course, this bird feeder offers a lot more than pragmatism. Not only will the simple silhouette look nice in an array of backyards, but it also has a powder-coated finish, so it’ll hold its own against Mother Nature.
Best Bird Feeder for Hummingbirds: SEWANTA Hummingbird Feeders for Outdoors
BUY IT: $16.99; amazon.com
Want to make your neighborhood’s hummingbirds feel more at home? Spring for a hummingbird feeder, like this one from Sewanta. You see, in addition to flowers, birds love to eat the sweet nectar from flowers. Sewanta’s option can be filled with nectar, plus it has 10 feeding ports so it can take care of multiple birds at once. And unlike other colors, which might attract wasps or ants, the color red is an instant draw for hummingbirds.
Best Ant Guard: Perky-Pet 245L Ant Guard for Hummingbird Feeders
BUY IT: $7.89; amazon.com
A red bird feeder might be a great idea, but it’s only a first step. If you want to keep pesky insects away from your bird feeder—so your feathered friends can relish in all that nutritional goodness—grab an ant guard. (After all, bird watching is all fun and games until a colony of ants runs your birds out of town.) This option from Perky-Pet hangs right underneath your hummingbird feeder and uses permethrin to keep those bugs at bay. (Don’t worry: According to Perky-Pet, permethrin is safe around birds, humans, and pets.)
Best Squirrel Baffle: PREDATORGUARD Squirrel Guard Baffle
BUY IT: $34.97; amazon.com
Another critter that can wreak havoc on your birding supplies? Squirrels. Sure, we love to see squirrels scurry across branches as much as the next outdoorsy person. However, they can inadvertently knock over your hanging bird feeder. Made with an anti-rust galvanized steel, this cone is suspended over your hanging bird feeder to keep it free of raccoons or squirrels. Plus, it has a slippery, no-grip surface that makes it virtually impossible for any pesky critters to scale the sides.
Best Bird Seed: Wagner’s 62067 Deluxe Treat Blend Wild Bird Food
BUY IT: $6.98; amazon.com
Speaking of bird feeders, you’ll need to pick up some food for your feathered friends. Naturally, a big bag of bird seed is a great place to start. This option from Wagner’s is made with top-tier grain as well as a blend of sunflower seeds and colored safflower. Proudly made in the United States of America, this option can be used in a tube, hopper, or platform feeder. Admittedly, we’re not feasting on bird food any time soon, but with over 4,000 positive reviews a near-perfect rating on Amazon, it’s safe to say this is an excellent choice for perching and ground feeding birds.
Best Mealworms: Hatortempt 5 lbs Non-GMO Dried Mealworms
BUY IT: $34.95; amazon.com
Another option worth adding to your cart? Hatortempt’s mealworms. We know what you’re thinking, worms don’t sound particularly appetizing. However, they are a crowd-pleaser amongst bluebirds and other wild birds. (Fun fact: They’re also rich in protein, fat, fiber-filled vitamins, and rich edible oils.) Of course, not all mealworms are created equal. Hatortempt uses the best ingredients to ensure its worms are 100% natural and free of additives, preservatives, and GMO. Bon appétit!
Best Suet: Heath Outdoor Products Birdie’s Blend Suet Cake
BUY IT: $17.75; amazon.com
In a perfect world, your backyard would be filled with a gorgeous array of colorful songbirds. If you want to make that dream your reality, spring for some suet cakes. Made with ingredients like Sunflower seeds, millet, milo, and corn, suet cakes are known to attract eye-catching species like cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, and many more. Thanks to its great reviews and «Amazon’s Choice» badge, this option from Birdie’s Blend is a cut above the rest. Simply store it in a dry, cool place and leave it out when you want to get some bird watching in.
Best Pedestal Bird Bath: VIVOHOME 28 Inch Height Polyresin Lightweight Antique Outdoor Garden Bird Bath
BUY IT: $44.99; amazon.com
Bird house? Check. Bird feeder and food? You bet. Bird bath? That’s where this handsome option from VivoHome comes in. Made with a lightweight, yet durable, polyresin, this option deftly bridges the gap between form and function. The classic, pedestal style features three ground stakes so you won’t have to worry about it blowing over from a particularly strong gust of wind. Plus, the teal hue and antique detailing will add an unexpected pop of color to your yard.
Best Hanging Bird Bath: MAGGIFT Solar Powered Bird Bath for Outside Hanging
BUY IT: $29.99; amazon.com
For a hanging alternative to the classic bird bath, check out this option from Maggift. At just under three pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be suspended from a tree branch. You can add some water occasionally—or wait until it rains—and watch your neighborhood birds lather. A solar-powered light hangs above the bath, which can be fully charged when exposed to direct sunlight for six to eight hours. That way, the birds can find their way if they take an early morning swim.
Best Bird Bath Accessory: Mademax Solar Fountain
BUY IT: $18.89; amazon.com
Want to add a «wow» to your bird bath? Mademax’s solar fountain has you covered. Simply add this to the nozzle of your bird bath for a glorious, water fountain effect. But, one of the coolest things about this pick is that it’s completely solar-powered, so you won’t have to sacrifice your energy bill. All this solar foundation needs to get going is three seconds in direct sunlight—and this little disc will take it from there.
Best Binoculars: Adasion 12×42 Binoculars for Adults
BUY IT: $68.86; amazon.com
Unless a Northern cardinal is perched right in front of you, you’ll need to zoom in to score a great view. That’s where Adasion’s binoculars come in. Decked out with 18mm lenses and 12x magnification, this pair delivers a big image and crisp details. This pair also features a Bak4 prism, which offers excellent light transmission and brightness. (It’s almost as if that cardinal really is right in front of you.) Want to snap a picture of your findings? Adhesion recently designed an adjustable smartphone holder to do just that.
Best Budget Binoculars: Hontry Binoculars
BUY IT: $24.95; amazon.com
If you’re trying out bird watching for the very first time, you might not want to spend a small fortune on your supplies. For a more affordable set of binoculars, reach for this pair from Hontry. There’s a reason why this small set has over 10,000 positive reviews on Amazon, a near-perfect rating on the site, and an «Amazon’s Choice» badge. Clocking in at only 0.6 pounds, this option is small enough to bring to your next bird watching outing without bulking up your backpack. (Its compact design makes this pair kid-friendly, too!) But, don’t let its small size fool you: With 25mm lenses and 10x magnification, this option packs a punch.
Best Bird Watching Notebook: The Sibley Birder’s Life List and Field Diary
BUY IT: $17.32; amazon.com
Keep all your sightings in check with The Sibley Birder’s Life List and Field Diary. Author and esteemed ornithologist David Sibley created this write-in journal to check off all your bird watching conquests. With 923 entries—mostly of birds found in the United States and Canada—this notebook allows you to jot down where and when you saw the species and any notable observations. Not only is this a great way to keep tabs of your progress, but you can also look back on your sightings in the years to come.
Best Spotting Scope: Gosky 20-60×60 HD Spotting Scope with Tripod
BUY IT: $198.99; amazon.com
Get up close and personal with your favorite birds, thanks to Gosky’s Spotting Scope. This option offers a potent 20- to 60-times magnification, so you can take in all those glorious details without disturbing the birds. There’s also a phone adapter, so you can turn your bird watching into an impromptu photoshoot. This pick’s tripod will ensure a steady gaze—and crisp photos, no less—while the carrying bag will make this scope easy to transport.
Best Portable Scope: Gosky Titan 12X50 High Power Prism Monocular
BUY IT: $64.86; amazon.com
Want to take your bird watching wherever you go? Feast your eyes on Gosky’s monocular. Lightweight and portable this option is easy to hold so you can follow that standout species as they take flight. This option also comes with a smartphone attachment, so you can easily snap some photos during your bird watching session. And—thanks to its water, fog, and shock-proof design—this scope will hold up nicely against the elements.
Best Lens for Phone: Bostionye Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit
BUY IT: $32.86; amazon.com
If you didn’t take a picture of that rare California Condor, did you even see it? Nowadays, bird watching and photographing our spotted species go hand in hand. You could invest in a pricey camera, but if you want to post your sightings on social media, a smartphone can get the job done. Elevate your next nature photoshoot with Bostionye’s camera lens kit. Decked out with wide-angle, macro, and fisheye options, these lenses can easily be snapped onto your smartphone. We hope that condor is ready for its closeup!