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What to Look For In A Bird Watching Telescope

Spotting and identifying a bird from a distance with the naked eye brings a great sense of achievement, but if you have access to a bird watching telescope, the opportunities to spot rare and exiting species become almost endless.

Your bird watching experience can be enhanced with the proper use of a quality bird watching telescope.  Scopes, as they are often abbreviated as, add a whole new dimension for bird watching enthusiasts – even more so than using a pair of binoculars. 

Tips to Help You Select a Suitable Bird Watching Telescope

Bird watching telescopes are typically mounted on a tripod, making them stable when in use and easier to focus on your subject. The magnification capabilities of bird watching telescopes are much more powerful than binoculars.  Magnification can start at around 15x and go as high as 60x, depending on which telescope you choose.  Interchangeable zoom attachments are available, much like the lenses of an SLR camera, allowing you variable degrees of magnification.  The attachment can be changed to suit your location. For instance, if you are wanting to watch birds of prey nesting high up on a cliff top or canyon crevice, you may need the attach highest magnification lens to your bird watching telescope, but if you are viewing at a reasonably close range and just want to enhance your view, the lower setting attachment can be installed. Additional features available are separate focus knobs that allow you to change your magnification and clarity of the bird you are watching.  Your chosen telescope may come as part of a bundle which already includes a tripod and handle to allow panning and tilting of the telescope in order to achieve easy viewing. 

How Do You Define a Quality Bird Watching Telescope?

You’ve now decided that you are ready to buy a good quality bird watching telescope, but the next question is which is the best one to suit me?  There is a wide range to choose from, and many of these may be suitable for your own individual needs.  Prices range from around $100.00 to several hundreds more, so if your budget is under $500, for example, then the Vortex Skyline telescope may be the one for you.  It is easily portable; good for walking with, very light but full sized and waterproof.  It comes with a 20x to 60x zoom and the resolution is remarkably good even when used at the lowest magnification settings. 

Without a doubt, one of the best full sized bird watching telescopes is the Zeiss 85mm Diascope.  It has a 20x to 60x Vario eyepiece giving it the best resolution out of any full size scope.  The Zeiss is brighter at dusk than most other scopes available, and has gotten some of the best reviews from avid bird watchers as being lightweight and easy to pack up and store. 

If you are looking for a smaller scope that is extremely lightweight and portable enough to take hiking you should consider purchasing the Swarovski ATS65 HD scope.  With a 20x to 60x eyepiece as standard, it provides amazing clarity, detail, and contrast.  It is a highly maneuverable scope and is great for use out of a moving car. 

Always do your homework and research which is the best scope to suit your needs.  Just because it is the most expensive does not mean it is the one you need! If you are looking for a higher priced bird watching telescope, watch out for sales or special offers, and speak to other bird watchers in your group to see what their preference would be.  Bird watching forums generally contain posts telling you what features are the most useful. And remember, a well-built bird watching telescope can last you for many happy years to come, so making the right choice now will make all the difference. 


Bird Watching Couple birding