Everything You Need to Start Birding, According to ‘Extraordinary Birder’ Host Christian Cooper
Christian Cooper wants you to know that you could go birding right now—this very moment—no matter who you are, where you are, or what stuff you do or don’t own.
“The most important thing—and really the only thing—you must have as a birder is yourself and your awareness,” says Cooper. “You don’t even have to step outside your front door; you can do it from a window. You don’t even need, say, eyesight, because there are people who bird blind using their ears.”
Cooper’s big-hearted zeal for birding makes him a natural fit to host National Geographic Wild’s new docuseries Extraordinary Birder With Christian Cooper (video), which is also available to stream on Disney+ and Hulu. But when it comes to essential birding equipment, he’s more pragmatic and minimalist.
“There are certain tools that you’re going to want to enhance the experience,” he says—although he insists the list is short. Below, Cooper runs us through the must-haves that accompany him on all of his birding expeditions.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.