Although it doesn't get much press, bird watching is actually one of the most popular hobbies today. That should come as no surprise as it is one of the few pastimes that can be enjoyed almost anywhere. The endlessly entertaining antics and lives of birds can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home as well as in the most exotic locations. Bird watching can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. It can be an all-encompassing passion or just an occasional enjoyment. There is really only one thing you absolutely need for bird watching, and that is a good pair of binoculars.
You can, of course, watch birds without any special tools. I enjoy the hummingbirds buzzing around the feeder in my backyard without binoculars, and I can spend hours watching finches play or Blue Jays defending their nests against some unknown enemy with resolve and determination. But if you really want to get close and see the birds and what they are doing, binoculars are a must. It's the only way to really learn about them, and to get to know them. Here, as is the case with just about anything else in life, studying, observing, patience, and the proper equipment matter. It makes no sense to spend the time and money required to get a chance at seeing a rare bird just to be thwarted by inadequate equipment.
But how do you pick the right binoculars? Do the same standards apply for birding binoculars as for a set used for boating or hiking? The answer is no. Bird watching is not all about maximum magnification, which is often how newcomers select binoculars. Instead, a set used for birding will provide maximum clarity, the ability to see well at dusk and under other difficult lighting conditions, flexible focusing so you can quickly follow a bird as it moves from branch to branch or when it gets close to you. It's also important to have a large field of view so you don't lose the bird and are able to fully enjoy the experience.
What brands are best for bird watching? That depends on your budget and preferences. Leupold, Nikon, Bushnell and Brunton all make high quality birding binoculars, and they come in all price ranges. If nothing but the best will do, it's hard to go wrong with a set of Zeiss Victory or Victory FL binoculars. Some of the Zeiss FL products now have the Zeiss trademark LotuTec coating that makes water pearl off and repels dirt. Anyone who has finally spotted a special target just to find the lenses smudged or misted will appreciate the value of this special treatment.
As always, based on my own personal experience I recommend buying binoculars from a place that specializes on them so you can benefit from their expertise and likely also get better prices. And speaking of price, birding binoculars and spotting scopes come in a wide range and you'll have to decide how much to spend on a good pair. Decent starter sets are very reasonably priced and work well, but spending a bit extra for better glass and optics always pays off in brightness, sharpness and clarity. High-end binoculars are expensive, but if they fit into your budget, they can give you a lifetime of service and enjoyment.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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