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If you have a birder in your life, you probably have a vague idea of the kind of Christmas gifts he or she would like. Then again, maybe you don’t.
Maybe you’ve searched for ideas and found lists that were only marginally created for birders. Does a real birder really want a shawl with a peacock design?
Here then is a list of Christmas gift ideas for birders that includes things they really, really want.
It’s amazing that some other lists I’ve seen don’t include a pair of binoculars (or a spotting scope, see below). Why would this not be the top item on every list?
Which set of binoculars of the hundreds available should you get? Find out from your birder. Most birders will only be too happy to let you know which pair they would love to have.
You will find binoculars in a wide range of prices from a couple hundred dollars up into the thousands. A word of advice: Don’t get ones that are really inexpensive. They aren’t worth it, and your birder will be very disappointed with how they work.
They might even let you know just how disappointed they are, so don’t do this.
As I hinted at above, a spotting scope also makes a great gift for a birder. A spotting scope is like a pair of binoculars that has only one tube. Usually the spotting scope is more powerful; that is, it has greater magnification.
Again, if you need help deciding which one to get, just ask.
These will probably cost you several hundred dollars for a decent one. You can easily spend thousands here too.
If your birder has a phone with a camera, that can work very nicely in combination with a spotting scope to take pictures of birds. This is often called digiscoping.
Your birder friend can probably tell you all about that, even if he’s never actually tried it himself.
Speaking of cameras….
The camera you look for doesn’t have to be a fancy-schmancy DSLR (though one of those probably would be eagerly accepted). Almost any of the multitude of point-and-shoot cameras will suffice.
In fact, a smaller camera might be more appreciated since it weighs less. Every exact ounce counts on a long hiking trip.
Many spotting scopes come with a tripod. If your birder already has one, it might not be of the best quality. Some companies tend to skimp on that part of a package deal.
So whether it’s brand new or an upgrade, giving a good tripod will be a welcome thing.
Birders often like to be doing their thing for hours at a time. When carrying a pair of binoculars, even a compact pair, their weight can really drag you down over time.
A harness handles that weight with ease. It distributes the weight over your torso and, at the same time, frees your hands for other necessary tasks.
Phone App for Birders
There are several great phone (iPhone or Android) apps available these days that are specifically designed for birding. While some of these are free, some of the better ones do have a small cost. James at Bird Watching Buzz also has a good list you can review.
If your birder has a smartphone; that is, a phone that can handle one of these apps (and he most likely does), check out getting one of them that he or she can download and carry along on birding outings.
A backpack is handy in some of the same ways a harness is. It frees your hands and handles your gear at the same time.
While a birder might not want to stow his binoculars inside, there are plenty of other things, like food, that fit nicely in there.
You can do bird watching from your car, but most of the time a birder does his thing on foot. Having a good pair of hiking boots (or similar footwear) on those feet is a comfort only a hiker can appreciate.
Going right along with the hiking boots is a good, warm pair of wool socks. Help keep your birder’s tootsies cozy with a nice pair of socks that will last many a hike.
State or National Park Pass
Most states have several State Parks and some even have several National Parks. Each of these is normally a great place to go bird watching.
Depending on your location, purchase a pass to one or both of these classes of parks for your birder. The pass usually lasts for a year.
Can your birder also read? (Of course.) There are dozens of good books about birds themselves, the birding hobby in general, and specific facets of birding.
A good birder is always eager to learn more about his chosen avocation, so get him a good book to make him an even better birder.
Bird guides of the traditional kind have pictures of birds and maps of their habitats. You can see at a glance which birds may be visible in a specific area during certain times of the year.
A birder can use this guide as a checklist if he wants. If your birder doesn’t have one of these yet, it should be near the top of your shopping list.
There are several great magazines dedicated to the birding hobby. Pick one and send in your order.
Maybe you can even subscribe in the name of your birder.
This is definitely the least serious item in this list. The bird pictures are fun to look at, but your birder can use the calendar itself to plan outings, meetings, and more.
Bird Songs CD
A set of recordings of bird songs goes hand in hand with the bird guide mentioned earlier. Whether it’s a CD or a recording in another format, learning bird songs is a great idea. Even experienced birders will tell you they “count” birds they have only heard and not seen when checking them off their lists.
Bird’s gotta have a place to live, right? Sometimes they find their own. Sometimes you give them one on a platter, so to speak.
If you decide to buy a birdhouse for your birder, just be sure it’s one that birds in your area will accept and use. Different birds like different styles of houses.
If you’re going to get a bird feeder for your birder to maintain, you might consider the type that is impervious to squirrels and other such critters. They cost more than your average feeder, but they are well worth it if you want to reserve the food for the birds themselves.
And finally, speaking of the food, you can always get a big bag of sunflower seeds as a gift. Almost all birds love them. The larger the bag, the cheaper the cost per pound.