Audubon 2013 Gift Guide for Bird Lovers
An array of presents sure to delight any avian enthusiast.
National Geographic Birds ($9.99): Provides a range map for each species, has bird illustrations, and two calls per species.
iBird Pro ($19.99): This, the first birding app on the market, provides bird illustrations and has a spectrogram for "geeky birders" to visualize the song.
Sibley eGuide to Birds ($19.99): This app has the most illustrations of species and provides six bird calls per species.
BirdsLog ($9.99): Ties into eBird and allows birders to report sightings from anywhere and at anytime, even without cell service, and find birding hotspots.
Hats: Tilley hats (above) are a great option for birders looing to keep cool and protect themselves from the sun (the fabric used to make the hats often has a SPF 50+ rating, says longtime birder Wayne Mones).
Buy it here: Tilley
Average price: $70
Bird Vests: They provide multiple pockets for storing binoculars, guides, and other gear, and contain shoulder padding to comfortably carry scopes or heavy camera equipment, says veteran birder Heidi DeVos. They come in weights and materials geared for either cooler or tropical climates.
Buy it here: Big Pockets
Average price: $120
Waterproof pants: Insulated, waterproof pants with multiple side storage pockets are a must.
Buy it here: The North Face has some great options.
Average price: From $70
Long-sleeved fishing shirts: These offer serious sun protection. Many are SPF 15 or higher. They're also lightweight, so the wearer won't overheat in the sun.
Buy it here: Cabela's has a large selection of fishing shirts for men and women.
Average price: $50
Heated Insoles: You can always put hand warmers in your shoes. For a high-end option, ThermaCELL's wireless, rechargeable heated insoles are sure to keep birders' feet warm while they're out in the elements this winter.
Buy it here: ThermaCELL
5. STOCKING STUFFERS
Water bottle: It's critical to stay hydrated when you're out in the field for hours on end. Camelback and Klean Kanteen (above) offer durable products that are BPA-free.
Buy it here: REI
Price: $14 and up
Flashlight: Birders are often up and at 'em before the crack of dawn. Wayne Mones says the Olight S20 LED from Battery Junction is an invaluable tool in those dark times.
Buy it here: Batteryjunction.com
Poncho: Lightweight and easy to store, these are perfect to have on hand for birding in the tropics when rainstorms come and go.
Buy it here: Available at most drugstores and sporting goods stores.
Price: Around $5
Waterproof journal: Essential for listing birds and taking other notes, no matter the weather.
Buy it here: Rite in the Rain
Price: Starting at $3.95
For our full 2014 binocular buying guide, by Wayne Mones, click here.
Alpha Class ($1,300 – $2,500)
These are the best that modern technology and engineering can offer. Yes, they are expensive, but then, there can be no great art without suffering.
Leica Ultravid HD (above): (7x42, 8x42, or 8x32)
Nikon EDG (8x42 or 8x32)
Swarovski EL Swarovision: (8.5x42 or 8x32)
Zeiss Victory T*: (8x42 or 8x32)
Almost Alpha Class (Less than $1,300)
All are better than anything that was available just a few years ago and cost a lot less than today's top models.
Steiner Peregrine XP 8x44
Swarovski CL Companion 8x30
Vortex Razor HD 8x42
Zeiss Conquest HD (8x42 or 8x32)
Best-Value Class (Less than $600)
Bright images, accurate color, and very good resolution. Buy one of these and put the cash you save toward a once-in-a-lifetime birding trip.
Kowa BD 8x42
Minox BL 8x44
Nikon Monarch 7 ATB, 8x42 or 8x30
Pentax DCF SP 8x43
Vortex Viper HD (8x42 or 8x32)
Zeiss Terra HD 8x42
Get in the Game Class (less than $200)
Bright, satisfying images and wide fields of view at a very modest price.
Nikon Monarch 3 ATB 8x42
Pentax Papillo 6.5x21 (Although designed for butterflies, these are acceptably bird worthy, weigh almost nothing, and are fun to use.)
Vortex Raptor 6.5x32
Leupold Yosemite 6x30