How to Choose Binoculars for Birding

To get the most out of bird watching you will need a pair of binoculars for birding. Having a pair of quality binoculars will even make watching wild birds at your bird feeders more enjoyable.

Binoculars bring the birds close... how close? Well that depends on your binoculars.

Imagine walking through the woods and hearing the song of an unfamiliar bird. You eagerly follow the sound, getting closer and closer. You now hear the bird straight above you. You look up to find that the bird you were searching for is 60 feet above you in a pine tree. All you can see is a dot bouncing from branch to branch seemingly taunting you. Not exactly bird watching, is it?

What if I told you there is a way that you can get to within 6 feet of that bird? No, you don't have to climb the tree. The answer - BINOCULARS! With a pair of binoculars for birding you can see that same bird as if it were only 6 feet away, or even closer.

Binoculars for birding make it possible to see birds up close. You can see the bird's beak shape, feather colors, and many other details needed for identification.

Finding the right pair of binoculars can be frustrating. Once you start shopping you will be surprised to find that there are 100's to choose from. Even more confusing is that the prices range from around $100 to over $2000.

Click here for information on choosing a pair of birding binoculars for kids.

When buying binoculars for birding, like most other things, you get what you pay for. That does not mean that you will need to spend $2000 for a good pair of binoculars. It does mean that the $100 pair may not meet your needs.

Start by deciding on your budget. Give yourself a price range and then find the best binoculars for you in that range.

Here is what you need to know when looking for a pair of birding binoculars:

Designs: There are basically two styles of binoculars to choose from:

Porro Prism:

Nikon Porro
  • This is the traditional design with eyepieces closer together than the objective lenses.
  • External focusing, the eyepiece assembly moves back and forth.
  • Larger object lenses provide good light gathering capacity.
  • Higher powers may be heavier.
  • External focusing is difficult to weatherproof.
  • Is available in all price ranges.

Roof Prism:

Nikon Roof Prism
  • Straight barrels with eyepieces in line with objective lenses.
  • Many models are lightweight.
  • Most models focus internally with moving lens elements inside the casing.
  • Available with large objective lenses that increases light-gathering capacity.
  • More weatherproof models available.
  • Prices range from mid-level to high.

Binocular Features:


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Bird watching can be hard on a pair of binoculars. To get the most out of your investment you need to keep your binoculars clean and protect them from damage.

For more information see Best Birding Binoculars 

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