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October 27, 2012

Binoculars, scopes enhance birding experience

If you watch birds at the feeder outside your window, the birds are usually close enough to see with your naked eye. But if your feeders are away from your window, or you want to see a bird in a tree farther away in your yard, you may want to invest in a pair of binoculars that will bring birds closer for easier viewing and identification. And if you venture into the field, binoculars will enhance your enjoyment of birds and other wild creatures as well.

Binoculars have come a long way from the World War II vintage that your grandfather left you. Today’s optics are lighter, brighter, sharper and have a single-center focus rather than having to focus the individual eyepieces. You don’t need to start out with the best pair as there are some fine lower-priced binoculars and you can always graduate to better optics as your interest grows. Or, as most experts advise, you can invest a little more money now and buy the best binoculars that you can afford and they will bring you many years of enjoyment.

I find that 8x42 or 10x42 are the most popular for birding. Binoculars with magnification of 8 or 10 power, the first number that you see printed on the binocular, will bring birds (or any object) eight or 10 times closer, or appear eight or 10 times larger. Higher power may sound better, and it can be, but the higher the magnification, the harder it is

to hold steady. The lower power usually gives you a little more light and a wider field of view. The wider the field of view, the easier it is to find a bird in a tree (because you are seeing more of the tree.) Ten power does bring birds closer, but is the practical limit that experienced birders can hold steady without the aid of a tripod.

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