I am an avid birder and have compiled a list of cool bird watching equipment with your Mom in mind. Note that the assumption here is that your Mom already owns a pair of binoculars. If not, of course she’ll need those first. I may do another post on good binoculars later, but for now, let’s look at some bird watching accessories.
A good place to start looking for gift ideas for a mom is with this handy gift tip sheet I’ve prepared. Maybe that will get you off to a great start.
A binocular harness is an essential for bird watchers because it frees up the hands. This Active Seasons Binocular Harness works nicely for men and women. Your Mom can alternatively hang her camera from this harness if she is a Photography Mom. Anyway, this harness distributes the weight evenly and reduces shoulder aches from hanging too much around her neck.
This harness is adjustable, meaning the binoculars won’t bounce and bang against the chest area. It costs about $28 on Amazon and comes with a free eBook listing 100 of the most popular hiking trails across North America. (Note: The eBook must be downloaded after purchase. It does not come with the package.)
The straps are elastic.
Enthusiastic Amazon review:
“I am very happy with this harness and the way it fits me. I am a large busted woman and some harnesses don’t look good. This does the job comfortably and, although a harness is not a fashion accessory, it looks as good as it could. My first wearing was at a golf tournament where I could watch some birds or watch for golfing birdies. Worked like a charm [PS, I am glad it isn’t in “feminine colors”].”
Gosky Titan 12 X 50 High Power Monocular & Smartphone Holder
This Gosky Titan 12 X 50 monocular with attachment for a smartphone looks SO useful. It can be used with iphoneXs, X, 8plus, 8,7plus, 7,6, 6s, 6plus, 5, 5s, 4s,SE, Samsung GALAXY S10, S9, S8, S6, S6, S5, S10 Edge, Note, LG, HTV, Sony, and almost all other smartphones on the market.
I use a Canon 7D, myself, for bird photos (100 X 400 lens is my favorite), however I am sorely tempted by this Monocular/Smartphone holder. It would be perfect, not only as bird watching equipment, but also for hiking, climbing, backyard bird watching, and even for observing a favorite sporting team. This monocular is just fabulous, and I also like the $60 price on Amazon.
It’s waterproof and dustproof. Even if your Mom doesn’t really take photos of birds, it’s a tremendous help with bird ID. She can see lots of detail, essential in distinguishing among some species.
Please note that there is a newer model of the Gosky Titan monocular that runs about $80. If you’re feeling flush, that might be a better option.
” I love everything about this monocular. The Gosky Titan monocular provides a close-up view into a whole new world of beauty. It delivers crisp and sharp images, fits nicely in the palm of my hand, and it is built really rugged.
I highly recommend Gosky Titan high powered 12X50. The multi-coated 50mm lens provides increased light transmission for superior brightness. 12X power is just what I needed. And the focus knob turns smoothly.
I really like the smartphone adapter very much. It just takes 1 or 2 minite to mount my phone on the monocular. And the images are very clear. I attached 2 images with and without the monocular.
I would highly recommend it to any friends who looking for a decent monocular.”
Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney Hat
A good hat is crucial for birders, hikers, fisherwomen, and nature lovers in general. This Columbia Unixes Bora Bora Booney Hat has a moisture wicking fabricant UV sun protection. It runs about $23 o Amazon and looks to be a fabulous bargain. This hat can be stuffed into a backpack (very handy) and is hand washable.
The chinstrap is adjustable, so your Mom can keep it as tight or loose as she wants. It’s UPF 50, so her head will be nicely protected. Provides good airflow.
“I have had this hat for almost a year, and used it almost exclusively for hiking trips. That means it gets stuffed into a pack, taken out as needed and generally knocked around. It keeps the sun off your face and neck and it breathes nicely and dries quickly. Probably the thing I have been most impressed by, though, is the way it’s held its shape. you can roll it up to almost nothing to stuff into a pack and then take it out, shake it, and put it on- it’s as if you never rolled it. Great hat – highly recommended.”
Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack
A daypack is soooo handy for birding trips. I like the looks of this Osprey UltralightStuff Pack, mainly because it is lightweight and because your Mom can throw it in the handy carry case if she is on a birding trip. It’s about 3 ounces and costs $27 on Amazon.
It comes in several colors, but birders generally prefer to blend in with nature, so Respectfully suggest not choosing the red or electric lime or blue. Hmmm. That leaves Shadow Grey as your best choice for birding. This one is water resistant (not waterproof).
“I love this bag! I bought it for a trip recently. Not only was it great for short hikes, but it was also nice to have as a spill over piece of luggage for random souvenir purchases. Few features worth noting: (1) the zippers are really quality; (2) the extra top zip-pouch is extremely convenient for stashing phone, boarding pass, wallet, etc. It even has a mini-pouch within the pouch, and a clip for keys! (3) Finally, the rolled up size is crazy-small! I included a pic next to an iPhone 7 (NOT plus) so you can see.
I almost bought the Sea to Summit one, but I’m glad I went with Osprey.”
Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Hard Back Notebook
One thing birders love to do is make lists. Oh, yes, we have lists of birds we’ve seen that year, birds we’ve seen over a lifetime, birds in our back yards, birds seen on a specific outing. You get the picture. This particular Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Hard Back Notebook is perfect for good or poor weather outings.
The paper itself is weatherproof, and this ones 160 pages. Your mom can use a pencil or an all-weather pen, and her list won’t turn to mush later. Amazon has it now for about $19.Enthusiastic review:
“Great field book. As a construction manager I am constantly in the field needing to write stuff down. This book is small enough to fit in my back pocket but not too small that it is annoying to write on tiny pages. Best field notebook I’ve found to date.”
The Genius of Birds
I can personally recommend this book, The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman, as being insightful and well-written. Anyone who loves bird watching and birds will learn plenty here. Hint: Be careful of calling anyone a bird brain. It might be more of a compliment than you intend.
I was simply amazed by these lovely, creative avian creatures. Your Mom will love this book. Amazon is selling it for about $13, and it’s worth every penny.
“While this book focuses on bird intelligence, the overall theme is much larger. It is appealing to anyone who is interested in birds, intelligence in general, culture and diversity and how individuals, species and generations thrive. It is both scientifically grounded and philosophically reflective. The most recent information on research into bird intelligence is fascinating. But it sheds light not only on birds but on types of intelligence and modes of adaptation that are not just avian but can be seen in humans as well: the specialist, group problem solving, the innovative, the generalist and the timid. It highlights the importance of diversity and how that diversity can contribute to the success of a population. And, of course, it highlights our need to take a long hard look at how we are affecting our world, often to the detriment of our feathered friends. This is an interesting and thought-provoking read overall and particularly enjoyable if you are captivated and enthralled by those beautiful winged creatures of the air.”
The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World
Oh, wow! This Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World is a visual guide to 1600 gorgeous birds from all over the globe. David Alderton has put together a beautiful book that will look great on your Mom’s coffee table, but she can also learn from the loads and loads of useful info presented here. The illustrations are lovely, sharp, and clear.
Amazon sells this bird encyclopedia for $35 in a hardbound edition.
“I love this book. I love birdwatching and I thought this book would be great to have in addition to my field guide so I can learn about more birds. The pictures are beautiful and there is a lot of great information and I would recommend (spelling fixed) this to anyone who loves birds or animals in general!”
Celestron Spotting Scope
I debated a bit before including this spotting scope. Scopes are a personal choice, and the price range varies enormously. Frankly, this Celestron 52252 100 mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope is on the less expensive side of the scale. BUT people love it. The optics are good, and it has a sight tube which can be used to speed up the bird spotting process. It works pretty well in low light conditions, which is a serious plus. Amazon has it for about $320, and it has good bang for the buck.
This scope is probably better for use from a car (well, I mean, rather than for hiking) because it’s heavier than some scopes. And everyone I know uses a tripod with a birding scope, so you may want to look into tripods.
All in all, this offers superior quality in this price range. Yes, there ARE better scopes.
“Excellent clarity of image even at great distance. I do not see any blue halo’s that sometimes occur with cheap scopes. Nice zoom feature and fine focus adjust. Powerful magnification really brings the birds up close. Just as a warning, it is a big scope, a bit larger and heavier than a 2L bottle of soda. So It will need to be carried in a sturdy backpack along with a sturdy tripod. If you want a very portable unit, you might want to go for the smaller version of this scope. I also purchased the Amazon Basics 60 inch Lightweight tripod with bag and it works well with this scope. The angled lens makes it easy to share viewing with friends when you have it set on the tripod.”
Long Sleeve UPF 50+ UV Protection Shirt
I own something similar to this Little Donkey Andy Women’s UPF 50+ UV Protection Shirts, and I love it. It keeps the sun off, but is lightweight and doesn’t make me sweat. Your Mom can wear the sleeves full length or roll them up as the situation warrants. It’s perfect for birding trips when your Mom will be out in the sun most of the day. Amazon sells these for about $25.
I recommend buying the khaki color. Birders like to blend in with nature, and white or any sort of neon color doesn’t work as well. Birds can spot things that don’t belong (something in neon red) and it spooks them. Stick with natural colors. I wear my shirt over a tee, and it is terrific.
Enthusiastic Amazon review:
“Wanted a sunblock shirt for working in my garden and yard without the constant need to apply sunscreen. This shirt is awesome! Love that it feels so cool and comfortable. Don’t have the soaking wet problem as with most garden shirts. It dries beautifully I ordered size medium because I prefer to wear a tank or shirt underneath at time and it is perfect to allow extra room. I’m 5’3 about 120 pounds. Already washed it…came out beautifully.”
Quick Dry Hiking Pants
I guess you can tell I am a BIG fan of clothing that protects me from the sun (I live in Arizona). These Women’s Stretch Convertible Pants can be worn either full length or as shorts. The pants zip on and off at the knees. The waist is elastic, so the overall fit is good. These are UPF 50+, like the shirt above. Thes run about $35 on Amazon.
Again, I recommend the khaki color so your Mom can blend in with nature. These are 90% polyester and 10% spandex.
Enthusiastic Amazon review:
“I am in my 50’s, 5’6″ 145 lbs and I purchased the size Large as some people suggested they run small. The Large was perfect. I had tried a few of these convertible pants at a local outdoor retailer for an upcoming 3 week backpacking trip and had decided this style just wasn’t going to work for me. Just not happy with the fit. I saw these and decided to give it one more college try. Sure glad I did. They are just a tad long, but I don’t like it when pants run short. I think the length is just right. They will not drag with shoes on. They don’t sit low on the hips like a lot of the styles do. They fit more around the waist which I like. Would purchase these again.”
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