For the Birds: More gift ideas for your birdwatcher

Photo by Chris Bosak Ablack-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the perfect Christmas gift being a membership or donation to a local land trust or other conservation organization. Some of those memberships even come with physical goodies such as stickers, newsletters or magazines.

So now that all those gifts have been granted, it’s time to take a quick look at some more gift ideas for the birdwatcher on your list. These gifts can go under the tree and are guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your birder.

What you get a birdwatcher, as with any hobbyist, depends on their skill level and what they have already. Birdwatchers need a good pair of binoculars, but chances are they already have good optics. If you know them well enough to know what binoculars they are using and know they could use an upgrade, that gift would certainly be appreciated immensely.

Speaking of optics — and now we will jump right to the most expensive gift — consider getting your birder a spotting scope and tripod. Spotting scopes come in a huge range of prices, but you really want to avoid the super cheap ones as they do not do very well for birdwatching. Good scopes start at a couple hundred dollars and go up to several thousand dollars. Don’t forget a good tripod, too, as a scope is pretty much useless without a tripod. That’s another hundred bucks or more.

Now let’s get to the gifts that are more practical and do not have as many zeros on the price tag.

A good bird feeder is always a thoughtful gift. So are birdhouses. Birdhouses serve the dual purpose of attracting birds (hopefully anyway) and being a nice decoration for the yard. I liked the look of one birdhouse I received so much that I kept it inside for a long time on a shelf as a decoration to go along with my modest decoy collection.

When possible, get your feeders, houses, and other bird gifts from a local business. Even the franchise stores such as Wild Birds Unlimited are owned by local people who would love your business.

Birding apparel is getting more popular and many companies make clothes exclusively for birdwatchers. Wunderbird has a nice line of sweatshirts, long sleeve T-shirts, and short sleeve T-shirts that are designed for birders. The apparel features several pockets for your binoculars and other gear. Similarly, Big Pockets has vests and other apparel designed for outdoorspeople.

Bird and wildlife art also make for good gifts. There is the traditional art such as photographs or paintings for the wall, and also not-so-traditional art such as decoys and Christmas ornaments. I know my tree is covered with mostly bird ornaments and my boys razz me about it every time we break out the Christmas boxes.

Field guides or other books about birds are also welcome. There are tons of bird books out there, both old and new, that are highly informational and entertaining. A few print magazines about birds are hanging in there in this electronic age and a subscription would be a gift that gives all year.

Speaking of the electronic age, iTunes gift cards are a good idea if your high-tech birder would rather have his or her field guides and other birding information on the phone. I will admit, I’m not a techie by any means, but I do like having a field guide on my phone while I am birding in the field.

There are plenty of other ideas that I didn’t get to. A few bags of Birds and Beans coffee, anyone? It’s funny. For a hobby that requires very little in the way of equipment, there are certainly a lot of ways to spoil your birder.

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