Bird Watching Binoculars
The most important tool for every birder is a good binocular. A high quality binocular
will let you see feather details and identify birds from hundreds of feet away. The recent
improvement in optics quality has led to an increase in the popularity of the sport of
birding. More recently, high-tech optical coatings and new manufacturing methods have
improved the performance and lowered the price of high-quality binoculars and scopes.
Binoculars are an indispensable tool for birders. The singing speck at the top of a tree becomes a brilliant flame-orange bird with a black head and black wings. You even see a white wing bar through your binoculars when the bird turns just so. Instead of a tiny speck, you now can see a male Blackburnian Warbler!
Binoculars come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and specifications. Most are multi-purpose instruments, suitable for a number of different activities including birdwatching, sporting events, concerts, star gazing, hiking, fishing, nature observation and more. Because of their large light-gathering capacity and the typical wider spacing of the lenses than the human eye, binocular images are brighter, more detailed and more three-dimensional than normal vision. Since no one particular binocular is perfect for all situations, determining their primary use is one of the most important factors in choosing the right one for your needs.
Remember, that there is no one binocular that will best meet the needs of every situation. Often, compromises have to be made among the various features and specifications. Of all the different types and styles of binoculars available, only certain models represent the best value in terms of optics, construction, manufacturer support and overall performance.
Binoculars are described with two numbers with an "x" between them such as 7x35 or 10x42. The first number refers to the magnification power of the binocular. The second refers to the diameter of the front lens (in millimeters). A larger diameter lens means more light can enter the binocular and the image should be brighter.
The following binocular brands are currently being recommended by a number of people and organizations we know and trust. You should try them out to see which you prefer. When you are birding with a group, ask other participants how they like their binocular. Ask if you can look through them when the birding slows down. See how they feel in your hand. A Swarovski binocular will feel a LOT different than a Zeiss binocular to most folks. Binoculars can be expensive. Use this guide to buy the best binocular you can possibly afford."
- Bausch & Lomb
- Under $500:
- Eagle Optics
- Swift Audubon (Not for glasses wearers)
- Value Binoculars:
Here are some optics web sites we find particularly useful:
Answers to all your binocular and telescope questions
Optics 4 Birding
Bird Worthy Binoculars A great article from Better View Desired
Binoculars - New Jersey Audubon Picks Pete Dunne is a recognized expert on optics for birders
Binoculars and Spotting Scopes from Vixen Optics
Fun Fact to Annoy Your Friends With: You would need four eyes to use a pair of
binoculars! All you need is one binocular to see the birds!