Being Objective about Binoculars

An illustration of binoculars

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s some information you might need to have in order to buy those new binoculars you have been wanting.


You’ve got your bird in your binoculars, but just what color is he?

Brightness is given in that second number in the details, 8×40. This number is called the objective. The larger the objective, the more light will be allowed in and the more detail you can see on the birds.

So do you need the biggest number you can get? No. Think about the times you will normally be looking at birds. If you look at them in bright sunlight fairly close, then binoculars with an objective lens of 35 will be fine.

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Beginning the Study of Binoculars

Central focusing binoculars with adjustable in...

Image via Wikipedia

By now you have your field guide. You have practiced looking at the birds eating in your backyard. You want to go on a nature walk to see some different birds, but you know that you can’t see them without binoculars.

So if you are new to birdwatching you are probably asking yourself what kind of binoculars do you want to get or perhaps you just want a new pair.

How I became a birdwatcher

A friend of mine, an avid birdwatcher, dragged me into birdwatching; but she also lives in Canada, where birdwatching rarely leads to heat stroke.

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Your field guide and you

Winter-plumaged bird in California.

Last week I wrote about the different field guides.  Today I want to help you find your way around the one you selected.  Let’s look at the book’s organization.

This information comes from Sheila Buff’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Birdwatching.

If all else fails . . .

Start by flipping through your field guide.  Read the introduction and instructions on how to use the book.  How’s that for advice?

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Choosing a birdwatching guide

Cover of "Field Guide to the Birds: Easte...

Cover via Amazon

Now that the spring migration is around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how to identify birds. I think the first thing to talk about is your field guide. We will work on bird identifications in the next few blogs.

Sheila Buff in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Birdwatching (Alpha Books, 1999) has a section on field guides. I wish I had known some of the things I learned from her before I jumped into bird watching. I hope this helps you newbies and gives you old hands a new idea or so.

In the beginning

First a little history. While the idea of identifying plants and animals is older than the Bible, field guides for birders didn’t exist until Roger Tory Peterson published A Field Guide to the Birds in 1934.

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