If you are going deep into the woods, carry a Kumbak. This is a combination compass, waterproof match box and whistle. It slips into the pocket and costs $2.75.
Learn to hear
After learning how to identify birds by sight, you will want to identify them by ear. Norma and Jerry Stillwell have prepared two volumes of authentic bird songs on 33? long-playing microgroove records, each priced at $7.95. In addition, Cornell University Press and Book-Records, Inc. have published a textbook and a record packet titled Songbirds of America ($4.95), compiled by Cornell Ornithologists Arthur A. Allen and Peter P. Kellogg.
Learn to talk
Next you will want to talk to birds. For centuries Europeans have been using a bird-calling device which is becoming popular in this country. One type, invented by Roger Eddy and known as the Audubon Bird Call, sold 450,000 last year alone. It costs $1.50. Anyone can work it immediately; all you do is twist a pewter peg that is set in a birch cylinder. The sound does not imitate any particular bird song; curiosity seems to lure them.
Keeping score is fun. The National Audubon Society, 1130 Fifth Ave., New York 28, can supply you with daily field cards, 10 for 20� or 100 for $1.75. These cards are broken down regionally into the Pacific states, the Central United States or east of the Mississippi. Scoring can be done by day, by year or for life. The "lifers" are the real thrill of this game. A "lifer" is the first bird of a particular species you have ever seen. Bird watchers will swap tales of rare "lifers" for hours. Scoring birds can develop into a real competitive hobby.
Be a joiner
The National Audubon Society has a junior membership for children and it is estimated that since 1910 nine million children have enrolled. Among the many benefits, attractive publications about birds and animals are sent to members. For the adults, two-week summer sessions are held in each of the Audubon's three camps: Todd Wildlife Sanctuary near Portland, Me., the Audubon Center, Greenwich, Conn., and Donner Pass in the High Sierra, Norden, Calif. The Audubon Magazine can come your way for $3.00 a year. Memberships range from the regular fee of $5.00 a year to life memberships at $200. There are several hundred local Audubon clubs in the U.S., most of them affiliated with the national group. Drop a line to 1130 Fifth Ave. and the Audubon Society will tell you the local club nearest you.
The First Book of Birds by Margaret Williamson (Franklin Watts, Inc. $1.75) makes an excellent gift for very young children. Older children will enjoy John Kieran's Introduction to Birds ( Garden City Books, $2.95). One of the most valuable books for the bird watcher is Dr. Olin Sewall Pettingill Jr.'s A Guide to Bird Finding East of the Mississippi ( Oxford University Press, $6.00) and a second volume for the area west of the Mississippi. It lists the best bird regions state by state and breaks them down to the nearest cities. The different species in the regions, how to get there and the seasons in which the birds appear are features of the book. A unique service offered by the guide is a complete listing of bird sanctuaries in North America. A handsome gift for any bird lover is Land Birds of America, by Robert Cushman Murphy and Dean Amadon ( McGraw-Hill, $5.95). The color plates are superb.
Watching in the rain
On rainy weekends, take the family to see the colorful bird exhibits at your local museum. For information on your nearest and most complete natural history museum, write to the National Research Council, National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C., or to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Your state library or state university can also furnish you with the names of all good natural history museums in your area. Happy watching.