“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.