Microphones (October 2019)
For recording bird sounds only, shielding you from a lot of ambient noise with the directional parabolic uptake, nothing beats the Telinga. The price will turn away some people and the bulkiness others. But if you are a sound recording nerd then this is it.
The more practical and economical choice for most would be a some type of directional microhone, or so called shotgun microphone. In the shotgun mic., off-axis sounds are attenuated relative to the on-axis sounds. I used this type of microphone, a Røde VideoMic Pro with my Canon 80D camera & often with my Olympus LS-P4.
Zoom has long been a favourite manufacturer, by journalists especially. But they are large and heavy. The Olympus LS-P4 can just as well record in highest broadcast quality 96 Khz/24 bit (PCM format). For those who want smaller file formats or are not as nerdy about uncompressed audio can also get MP3 directly from the same unit. The Olympus allow you to trim recordings directly on the unit. Both the Zoom and Olympus has built-in microphones. But if you want the best audio then you need to plug-in an external microphone, like the VideoMic Pro shotgun mic.
This combo can double for interviews. Journalists are often burdened by habits and stick with large hand held mics with large XLR connectors. The built in XLR jacks on the Zoom recorder makes sense then. But they can just as well use a lavalier mic with the LS-P4 instead and shave off a lot of weight.
Starting out with field recordings
My Choice! and what I recommend is to start with an Olympus LS-P4 coupled with a shotgun microphone such as the Røde VideoMic Pro. There is a switch on the mic to increase the sound capture with +20 dB which gives you recordings that you can immediately publish with little or no editing. Mount the mic on a selfie-stick or similar to make sure no noise from your hands are captured.
Then learn how to edit the recordings using Audacity or WavePad Finally upload them to your private SoundCloud account or share (only your very best) on Xeno-Canto
Read up on how to capture sounds, edit and upload from a beginners guide to field recording, followed by Naturesongs guide You can also learn a little more about parabolic reflectors
The Proper Use of Playback in Birding
Sibley Guides has a good article on the proper use of playback. In short avoid loud and prolonged playbacks. Avoid using it to lure very rare birds in breeding season where also other birders could potentially playback and thus increase the likelyhood of a spoiled breeding. The Proper Use of Playback in Birding