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Bird Garden Tips: Choosing Binoculars

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Binoculars are key in enjoying and identifying garden birds. Here are tips on choosing and using them:


Don’t skimp. Binoculars can be expensive, but a good pair’s sharper view is well worth its higher price. Binoculars should last, so think of it as a long-term investment.

Binoculars are described by magnification and lens diameter. For instance, 8x42 binoculars magnify an image 8 times and have 42-millimeter objective lenses. Six, seven or eight magnification works well for garden birding. Diameters between 30 and 45 millimeters offer a wide field of view without being too heavy to carry.

Buy your binoculars in person rather than online, so that you can test them out. Try focusing them. Compare the features and image quality of different models. Test them for comfort, and for how they work with eyeglasses if you wear them.

Choose a pair with one central knob for focusing; keep in mind you’ll sometimes need to focus quickly to keep up with the birds!

To clean your binoculars, spray the lenses with compressed air, then wipe them with a lens cloth dampened with lens cleaner.

Image credit: Kate Ter Haar, CC BY 2.0 via