Frequently Asked Questions

from new Iowa birders

Birding is one of the nation's fastest growing hobbies.  New people find this website or join the IA-BIRD listserve nearly every day.  New birders often have a lot of questions about books, binoculars, and identifications.  This page is intended to help the new birders get started and maybe even answer a few nagging questions for the old-timers.


Q.  What field guide should I buy?

A.  Ask a birder what field guide they prefer and the answers will vary. Some of us grew up with only one choice.  Today there are many options in various price ranges although everyone awaits the "perfect" field guide.  These books may be ordered through the IOU affiliation with Amazon using the widget in the sidebar. Proceeds help to support activities such as this web site.

Looking for specific information about Iowa Birds?  Be sure to check out Birds in Iowa by Kent and Dinsmore and The Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas.  More detail maybe found by following the link to Iowa bird books.


Q. Can  you recommend some binoculars?

A.  If birders are opinionated about favorite field guides, they are passionate about their optics!  The best way to find a fit for you is to join your local birding club on the next outing and ask to try different binoculars.  Before investing a lot of money, you should also do some research on porro vs. roof prism, field of view, depth of field, eye relief, and other features found in today's optics. 

Identification Resources

Q.  I just saw a bird that looked like (fill in the blank).  Do you know what it might be?

A.  There is no replacement for a good old-fashioned book to help you become acquainted with the birds in your yard, at your favorite park, or anywhere else for that matter.  Paging through the plates of a field guide is not only pleasant but it helps a new birder become acquainted with family groupings.  In this day and age, however, many people are also interested in on-line and computer-related identification resources.  Here are a few to get you started.

This page of our web site contains the entire list of birds recorded in Iowa.  Click on the name of the bird for more information.

 Other web sites of interest are: