Dressing for Birding in the Rain

Since the weather forecast often calls for possible “precip”  we are providing some “dressing for birding in the rain tips” from veteran Bird-a-thoner Kathy Seymour from 2008. Kathy reported that 2008 was her 5th out of 7 Bird-a-thons that had been graced by either rain or snow. She noted that on average, in Massachusetts it rains 39% of the days in May. 81% are overcast. It had rained (or snowed) during 4 of the last 6 bird-a-thons.  It had rained every Saturday in May month by the time Bird-a-thon came around, with rain predicted, again, for the day itself.

Kathy's top ten rain-birding comfort tips from personal experience

  1. Two rain layers are better than 1. The inner one keeps you dry. The outer one helps protect the optics.  
  2. Extra lens cleaning cloths are not really extra. That goes for most gear: gloves, socks, shoes...
  3. Bring a towel or two.  You can use it to wipe down your wet scope, clean the fog off car windows, or just dry your face.
  4. Waterproof boots are sometimes not. That's where extra socks or a chemical toe warmer can make a big difference when you still have 12 hours of birding left.
  5. You can scope reasonably well under an umbrella.  You can also scope well under the raised hatch of a wagon or van.  But beware of the deluge when closing it (i.e. stand off to the side, not directly in back.)
  6. Bring a plastic bag to help segregate the wet stuff from dry stuff (while you still have dry stuff). 
  7. If you are lucky enough to have a spare pair of binos, you can use one inside the car and the other outside for less fogging.
  8. Chemical hand and toe warmers are not just for winter birding.   
  9. Wearing a baseball hat or rain hat under your hood helps keep the rain off your face.

And the most important...

10. If you put your hood down to listen for birds, empty the cold water out before putting it back up.
Good luck this weekend.