I get to travel a lot in the richly biodiverse western ghats of India. While hiking, one of the most difficult tasks I face is to identify birds that I come across. I'm not a professional or even amateur bird watcher. However, my curiosity to know more about the birds that I come across makes me wonder if there is a handy resource which allows for identifying birds on the go. I own the "Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" field guide. This however is a super heavy book which is impractical to carry on a hike.

The alternative would be to click a pic and come back and research on the same. I would like to know what the members here do when it comes to identification of birds.

PS: I'm not looking for google as a possible solution. I want to know if there are field guides which are handy to carry. Or is it all based on click-come-back-and-identify?

  • Take a picture and upload it here once you are back to civilization :) Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:44
  • How heavy is your field guide? My Helm Birds of Northern India is about 500g, which I think is reasonable, but I can see why you might not.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 7:18
  • @ChrisH Would say around 800g. Not feasible to carry on a hike. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 3:27
  • Not if it's not primarily a birding hike, anyway. With camera gear, field guide etc. my pack for a wildlife day hike doesn't weigh much less than a light overnight pack
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 6:28

2 Answers 2


I highly recommend the Pocket Naturalist Guides from Waterford Press. I have no affiliation with the company, and I don't purchase directly from their website. I'm recommending them because we use them for birding and learning about nature both in the backyard, and in our travels.

I think they easily meet your criteria. They're folded to give you a good amount of information in a small space. They're only approximately 3 in x 8 in, and open to about 22 in. They're extremely lightweight, not more than a few ounces. They're laminated, so they're durable, and water-resistant.

They have pictures of the birds, with names and short descriptions. These aren't in-depth like your larger field guide, but can definitely assist you with identification, and give you something to research more when you get home.

The guides cover areas all over the world. This one includes 140 birds in India. On the back it has a map and some pointers as to where to find some excellent birding areas. Here are some pictures of it from that source page. Click on them for a larger view.

Folded India Bird Guide Front Unfolded from front Unfolded other side

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    Brilliant!!! Thanks a lot Sue, meets my requirements for what I was looking for :) Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 5:50
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    These cards are great, and I would have suggested them myself had I known where to find an appropriate one (+1). But they're not perfect. They tend to only show one or occasionally two plumages, and lack information on habitat, call, or behaviour, all of which are useful identifying features.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 7:16
  • @Chris H, You're right about that. Thanks for the clarification! Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 0:15
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    Ricketyship, I'm so glad I could be of at least a little help! I'm jealous of your trip. That area is one of the 10 top biodiversity hotspots in the World. Among other things, there are 504 birds there, which I guess is why your other guidebook is so heavy! Have an awesome trip, and if you feel like it, drop some pictures in the chat room for people to see! Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 3:54
  • @Sue well I go there almost every other weekend ;) As of now, it's the onset of summer here and the trips will have to pause for the next 2-3 months. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 3:26

There several apps for phones that would help a person,


Beyond that you could look for small easy to carry books for the region you are going to.

Finally, the members on this site are really good at tracking down what species an animal is or what type of object something is, so if you take a picture and write a question here, I bet we could figure it out after the fact.

  • North American and European bird guides are not going to cut it when someone travels in India.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:18
  • @WillekeTHen the OP should limit their question just to india in the title. Otherwise people in the US will get this question as a result of googleing and then bounce since it doesn't answer the question Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:19
  • You can edit that into the header, if you feel it is important. I feel that since it is in the body of the question it is that you should consider when answering.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:21
  • @Willeke The title takes precedence. Also the first suggested resource is worldwide Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:22
  • Edited. Thanks @Willeke for suggesting the edit. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 17:21

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