Updated for 2021
From casual backyard bird feeders to experts that go birding every weekend, we have last-minute gift ideas for everyone on your list. Take a look at our top picks for bird lovers’ gifts in 2021. While birders can be picky about their gear, we hope this serves as a solid starting point to scope out the perfect gift.
Binoculars or Spotting Scope
Every birdwatcher needs a good pair of binoculars—or a scope, as some prefer. There are clear benefits and drawbacks to each, and many avid birders choose to keep both.
See also: Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars
- Usually lesser magnification capabilities
- Use both eyes, causing less eye fatigue
- Typically more affordable
- Can be more delicate
- Powerful magnification
- Sometimes offer a camera mount
- Usually more expensive
Identifying wild birds can sometimes be tricky, even for the experienced birdwatcher. Field guides offer illustrations, descriptions and range maps of birds to make the process a little easier. The Sibley Guide to Birds is a comprehensive, yet simple bird guide that lists more subspecies that any other.
A good pair of boots can make outdoor obstacles feel like cake. Birding trails can be muddy, icy, steep, or otherwise hazardous. Taller boots offer more support and can help protect against ankle sprains and even snake bites. Low-cut models can be great for shorter walks, and they don’t require as much breaking in.
Some days, finding the birds can be enough struggle. Add in a little rain—even a drizzle—and misery can set in quickly. A high-quality rain jacket will get years, even decades of use. Look for something that’s both waterproof and breathable. These qualities will keep the birder dry, while keeping them from getting too hot when they begin to exert themselves.
The bird lover you’re shopping for probably already has a bird feeder, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another. To attract a wide variety of birds, you’ll need to offer a variety of food. Many bird feeders are specifically designed to offer niche foods like suet, peanuts, sunflower seeds, thistle or hummingbird nectar. This makes it easier to pick and choose which birds you’re inviting over. When buying a bird feeder as a gift, try picking a style that the recipient doesn’t own already.
See also: Top 3 Worst Bird Feeding Mistakes
Sitting on the ground is not for everyone. Birding is a hobby of patience, so you may as well enjoy the wait. A durable, light-weight (we’re talking a couple pounds) camp chair can add a touch of comfort to a bird lover’s life.
Birds are notoriously difficult to photograph, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It’s rewarding to take the perfect photo of that finch at your feeder. Digital cameras offer birders the opportunity to take thousands of photos without worrying about changing or developing film. Plus, they’re often compact and lightweight, so they’re easy to travel with. These cameras are becoming more and more affordable to the average birder every year.
Glare can be killer at times when birds are most active—sunrise and sunset—so be sure to protect your eyes. A good pair of sunglasses will be polarized to reduce glare from surfaces like water or snow. Glare distorts the true color of birds, and it makes them harder to distinguish.