watching_birds-photo Watching, Attracting and Feeding Birds in New York
with Sam Crowe

Why spend more for binoculars

Very expensive binoculars do have their advantages.

 - They have better image quality, especially on the outer edges of the image.
 - They have better light gathering ability, useful in low light conditions and while birding in the tropics.
 - The design, materials and manufacturing quality produce a very rugged binocular.

The last item may be the most important.  No one wants to travel hundreds or thousands of miles on a birding trip, only to have the binoculars knocked out of alignment while chasing the most exciting bird of the trip.  More expensive binoculars can really take a beating with little damage to their performance.

Compact binoculars are small and light weight and often ideal for watching birds in the backyard.  Compact, inexpensive binoculars often have poor optical quality and should be avoided.  More expensive binoculars will have excellent optical quality in compact design.

Expect to pay $300 to $1000 for a good pair of binoculars.  Top line models can run over $2000.

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Birding Lake Placid

For many people the Lake Placid area is most famous for the Lake Placid Olympics.  The area is also a wonderful location of for warbler enthusiasts.  Over 20 warbler species have been recorded in the area, including  Blackburnian and Cape May Warblers.

The area also supports the Boreal Chickadee and Bicknell's Thrush, two species many birders would like to add to their life list.

Birding Quick Hits

There are over 9,500 species of birds in the world. Scientists generally group them into 30 categories.

Learn about the Eastern Screech-Owl.
eastern screech owl

Frequently Asked Questions

Where have my Purple Martins gone?

Nothing sinister is afoot. Purple Martins leave their nesting locations in mid-summer in preparation for their southward migration.

Purple Martins are an early migrant, arriving in the southern United States in February (with the possibility of a scout or two arriving in January). They spread across much of the eastern half of the United States and into southern Canada.

A separate population is located along the western coast of the United States and in spotty locations in other western states.

By mid-summer they have completed nesting and begin leaving their apartment houses and gourds in preparation for migration to their winter homes in South America.  In the process, the martins form large, communal roosts where they sleep at night prior to and during migration.

Purple Martin roosts are often associated with bodies of water.  Reed beds or dry islands with low, thick brush are preferred locations.  These remote sites may provide protection from predators. Roosts may also be found in urban and suburban settings, even in the trees in the parking lot of a mall. Martins also roost on man-made structures, particularly bridges over water and on pipes and girders of petroleum refineries.  Winter roosts in South America usually occur in urban settings, often in small parks. The roosts can be quite large, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands of birds.

It is quite a remarkable site to see thousands of Purple Martins returning to their roost each evening. They arrive just before sunset, in a large, boiling mass of birds. Check the Purple Martin Conservation Association web site for locations of known roosts. They tend to be in the same location year after year.

Bird identification

Learning to identify the birds you see is a fun and rewarding experience.  If you are a novice at identifying birds we have several options for you.

50 common New York birdsNifty Fifty Guides:  Our Nifty Fifty Guide to the Birds of New York is available on-line and in print.   It contains 25 common backyard birds and 25 additional common birds found in New York.  Purchase the print version.

The online version is shown below. Click on a corner to turn the page. has multiple resources for identifying a bird you have seen as well as information on improving your identification skills.   You can also send us an image on the web site and we will try to identify it for you.