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What is Birding?
Birding Etiquette
Ways to get involved
Butterfly Watching

Selecting a Spotting Scope

Binoculars are your most important piece of equipment. Choosing the wrong one may lead to frustration that can put a stop to your birding enthusiasm. Several charateristics need to be considered in order to obtain a perfect match for you. Below are some of the most important features to consider.


The price of binoculars is probably the one thing most people will consider first. Optics tend to be expensive, and higher price usually means better quality optics and durability. With some prices exceeding $1,000 dollars, a binocular is an investment that should not be taken lightly. Fortunately there are inexpensive options, that offer high quality and durability. An experience birder will probably opt for the most expensive glass, but for beginners any binocular priced between $100-$200 will be a good starting point. Even an old, but well kept pair of binocular can get you started and happy for awhile. As your skills improve you may want to upgrade to better quality optics when possible.


The magnification of your binocular determines how large your distant subject will appear on the ocular an is expressed in terms of "X or magnification factor". An 8x32 binocular will allow you to see a bird 8 times larger than what you see with your naked eye. The larger the X number, the larger the magnification. For bird watching 8X to 10 X is a good starting point. The second number refers to the width in millimeters of the frontal element (glass). The larger this number the more light enters the binocular, thus producing really clear images even in low light situations.

Close focus

This feature allows the binoculars to focus really close for those subjects that venture close to us. If a binocular starts focusing at a minimun of 20 feet, you may be missing on the little birds that perch closer to you. A close focus binocular will allow you to focus as close as 5-8 feet, which makes them appropiate for bacyard birding.


Weight is usually a sign of good optics and sturdy construction, but perhaps it may be too much to carry and hard to justify for long walks. Today's binoculars construction calls for lighter materials that retain the same strenght and durability of heavier ones, leaving the rest of the weight on the optics. Good glass is always heavy, and that's due to the number of elements used in the construction. More elements translate into less distortion and an optimized viewing experience. These binoculars are usually more expensive.

There are other factors to consider when buying binoculars, but they become more of matter of taste and convenience.

Scope Designs
The angle viewfindrt
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