Great Gifts for Birdwatchers 

Great gifts for birdwatchers

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With Christmas fast approaching, you might be worried about buying a great gift for your birdwatching friends – well, this article is an excellent place to start. Birdwatching is a brilliant hobby for anyone outdoorsy and interested in nature. Since the pandemic, we are more aware than ever about the importance of being outdoors and connecting with the world around us. It’s also incredibly healthy to be experiencing the world in a truly organic and genuine way – plus you get fitter and healthier; and who doesn’t want that?! So, buying the perfect gift to encourage and support this hobby is a very thoughtful and fun thing to do.  

 

The problem with birdwatching however, is that it’s quite a niche hobby. This means that getting the right bit of kit can be a little daunting; especially if birdwatching isn’t your “thing”. Fortunately, BIRDA’s got your back. We asked a dozen birders what they thoughts would make the perfect gift (and we added some of our own), we then broke the list down into suitability and price to help you find the perfect thing for your birding-buddies. Whether you’re a bird watcher yourself or you’re looking for inspiration for presents, this article is the perfect place to start. 

 

Man walking with camera for birdwatching
Better to be equipped than sorry you missed the shot

 In The Field Birding Equipment 

 

 

Birding Binoculars 

Top of the list has got to be binoculars. There’s nothing a birder loves more than getting close to the action and a good set of binoculars (‘binos’ or ‘bins’) is a sure-fire win. It’s also great for birders to have more than one pair so that they can bring one along for friends and family to help get someone else involved. There are cheaper options from companies like Nikon or Praktica for under £100 which are perfectly suitable, but for a little more money the quality will really jump up. Personally, I would recommend looking at the £100-£200 mark. For this much you’ll get a set of bins with sharp image quality and a sturdy design. Opticron offer great sets for around £50-£200. Just remember to make sure the bins are set up correctly when they’re used by adjusting the eye relief for a sharp image.  

 

A Binocular Harness Strap 

Most binoculars will come with their own strap straight out the pack, but if you want to upgrade to a harness then this can make a big difference; especially if your birding friend is likely to be carrying his bins around all day. A good harness takes the weight of the bins and frees up your hands too! It sits across the chest usually and will keep your kit from swinging around and knocking into things. Most of these harnesses are also aimed at photographers, so if you’re buying for a birder who also takes photos then this is a great option. Consider the Cotton Carrier Skout retailing for around £75.  

 

A Spotting Scope/ Fieldscope 

A more robust and (usually) higher quality option for getting closer to birds than binoculars alone is a spotting scope. These are usually mounted on top of a tripod or monopod and allow the viewer to see birds of interest from afar. It’s worth noting here though that you should make sure that either your birding friend has a tripod already, or you’re picking up one for them as well! There are various mounting options so this doesn’t have to be expensive.  

 

The scopes are usually useful for longer ranges and can offer a number of attachments to even take mobile phone photos through them! Again, Opticron do a number of scopes, as do Nikon and plenty of off-brand options. The scopes can range from tens to thousands of pounds so it’s best to do a bit of research. Generally speaking, you’ll end up paying more for a higher quality image, build quality and focal range. A field scope can get expensive quickly so do lots of hunting around for the best allrounder.  

Opticron spotting scope

Birding Books 

This should probably be top of the list because it’s such an easy and popular option for a birding gift. Books can seem a little archaic nowadays, but you’d be surprised how many birders go out with a field guide in their rucksack. Often birders are away from phone signal so can’t google. This is where an ID book comes in handy. The RSPB offers numerous books on native birds and Collins Bird Guides are a firm favourite of many ornithologists. It’s not just ID books which are useful however, you can buy books which give tips and locations for some of the nation’s most elusive birds – the Where to Watch Birds series by Bloomsbury is a great addition to any library.  

 

Remember that the BIRDA app also features a field guide and lots of handy information about ID and locations – and it’s free! You can download the Birda app here.

 

Bird Watching Clothing 

 If you’re looking for a good gift for a bird watcher or photographer then you can’t go far wrong with either purchasing something to wear camouflaged or really warm. Many serious bird watchers will dress in MTP (multi-terrain pattern) in order to avoid detection from birds and other wildlife – the best place to get this is often an army surplus store. When it comes to warm gear though, it’s worthwhile investing in some warm thermal leggings, gloves, hats and jumpers. The first two can be picked up from your local outdoors shop but the latter two can be purchased from BIRDA directly; why not be fashionable and warm!  

 

Birdwatching at Home 

 

Bird Feeders 

Bird feeders are a great way to bring birds closer to you. With a bit of perseverance, you can gain the trust of some truly beautiful garden birds whilst also doing your bit to help with wildlife in your green space. These make great presents particularly for young children because there are a whole host of activities you can do without much effort. You could buy an entire bird feeding station or just a small hanging feeder suspended from a tree. Pets at Home, Homebase, B&Q or The Range all offer their own feeders and they don’t need to break the bank – the birds don’t mind!  

 

"What are you having for lunch?"

Window Feeders 

Although closely linked to the previous idea – a window feeder is *just* that little bit more exciting. Window feeders attach with suction cups to a window and offer a really close view of some of gardener’s favourite birds from the comfort of your living room. You’ll find that some birds won’t approach as it feels a bit too close for comfort for them, but those that do offer an incredible up-close experience. You can pick these up from the RSPB for under £10 

 

 

Nest Boxes  

An ideal gift for a birder. There’s no better way of seeing birds than by ensuring that they are breeding nearby. You can either buy the nest boxes pre-made or, make them yourself using the helpful RSPB bird box guide. Make sure that bird boxes get put in the correct locations on a north facing wall or tree and away from potential predators. You can even buy a nest box with an in-built camera so you can see all the action without disturbing the birds themselves – a really unique and beautiful experience.  

 

Bird Books 

It’s always handy to be able to identify birds when you’re spotting from home and so bird ID books are a really handy tool to have at your coffee table or within easy reach. The type of ID book will differ by country and region, but you can start your bird book gift search with this list:  

UK
TitleAuthorGet a Copy
Britain’s Birds (Second Edition) … Rob Hume, Robert Still, Andy Swash, Hugh Harrop and David TiplingBook
Collins Bird Guide — The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe.  Lars SvenssonBook
Collins BTO Guide to Rare British Birds. Paul SterryBook
The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland Richard Crossley and Dominic CouzensBook
USA
TitleAuthorGet a Copy
National
Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America 
Jon L. DunnBook
The
Sibley Guide to Birds 
David Allen SibleyBook
Peterson
Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America 
Roger Tory PetersonBook
Kaufman
Field Guide to Birds of North America 
Kenn KaufmanBook
The
Warbler Guide 
Tom StephensonBook
SA
TitleAuthorGet a Copy
Sasol birds of Southern Africa Ian SinclairBook
VELD – Birds of Southern Africa Burger Cillie, Trevor Hardarek, Karen Wiesler, Niel Cillie and Phil PenlingtonBook

Camera Traps and Wildlife Cameras

 Wildlife cameras are often used by wildlife lovers to see what’s around and also offer a really up-close view without disturbing the animals. Putting a camera trap or a live-feed camera on a bird feeder or nest box can be hugely rewarding for young to old alike. What’s great with this gift is that they do not need to be expensive. This one from NatureSpy costs under £100 and features WiFi connectivity so you can watch live from anywhere. It has a day and night mode so you’ll even be able to spot owls if you place it in the right place!

 

And there you have it; your complete list of the perfect birding gifts for your loved ones. Birdwatching is a fantastic way to engage with nature either on your doorstep or out in the field and being able to support that is a privilege. Be sure to share your success with us at BIRDA and let us know what your best birding gift has been!

 

If you have been considering birding yourself, and want to start having more fun outdoors, then download our free app today! today. Our unique community is designed to make birding accessible and friendly bringing both expert and beginner birdwatchers together. On your door step or further afield, you can share your sightings, find the best bird watching locations, complete challenges and connect with other birders in your area.

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