Birding Season is Here!

Wow, what a beautiful Spring we are experiencing here in the KW region!  We've had up to 21 degree weather here.  It's been sunny and lovely, no complaints here.  As usual, this warmer weather has brought some of our favourite birds back from their Winter homes!  I have spotted Kingfisher, Blue Heron, Trumpeter Swans, and so many more already.  

No photo description available.

Image by Shannon Cameron

Are you the type to yell out to everyone in your car when you spot a bird along the highway?  Well, you're not alone.  So many Red Tailed Hawks and Falcons wait above the ditches that run along highways and roadways, stalking prey and swooping down with claws out.  Very distracting indeed!  But with each sighting, the urge to go see more strikes and then that leaves you with the questions:  What will I bring?  Where will I go?  Do I want to just observe, or should I take my camera as well?

I, for one, love the photography side of things, as you can achieve a great deal of satisfaction knowing not only did you spot that bird, you captured a shot that you can cherish.  However, there have been many times that I have missed the shot and equally missed the moment to sit and just observe.  So, I have compiled a list of my favourite binoculars that I personally have experience with.  I have done this simply out of my own joy that I have found in birdwatching, and the criteria that my equipment must meet.  Please keep in mind, that binoculars, like so many things in optics are entirely subjective.  Not I, or anyone else, can tell you what you prefer.  You really must try them out yourself.

So, here we go!

Below, I have listed some fantastic binoculars that are budget friendly, high quality and simply wonderful to look through:

Best under $150 category:

Celestron Outland DX 8x42 $135  (71346)

Sometimes, we just want to have some binoculars that we can enjoy from time to time, take on vacation, and share without the guilt of a splurge.  The Outland 8x42 binoculars fit that bill in so many ways.  First, the field of view is 7 degrees, so that is no laughing matter.  Great eye relief 17.8mm (great for eye glass wearers). Great for birding!  Spotting animals!  Sight seeing!  Rubber armored, water proof, and equipped with a neck strap and carrying case.  These are simply good quality, easy to carry (1.4LB), and they will do the job!  Also, they have a lifetime warranty and that speaks for itself.

Best under $300 category:

Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 $283 (72332)

Ok, I have to say one thing before I start on these.  These are the newest addition to the Nature DX series from Celestron.  The 8x42 Nature DX (71332) at $229 are also worth mentioning here.  But, I have to say that in my experience, having the ED designation (extra low dispersion) colour correction, is worth every little penny more.  So, at 7.5 degrees field of view, 17.8mm eye relief, and a nice 1.5 LB body (which is great considering the glass in these) I will say nothing more than "best value for the money" right here.  You have to see with your own eyes to understand this and compare these two models.  Worth it.

Best under $450 category:

A TIE:  Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 ($405)  and Kowa SV 8x42 ($349)

Kowa 8x42mm SV II Roof Prism Binoculars

Sorry to do it, but I have a tie here for my favourite in this category.  I love the Trailseeker  for the generous field of view (8.1 degree), the eye relief (17mm), and the feel of them in general.  But I also love the body of the Kowa SV 8x42, as they literally balance themselves in your hands.  Of COURSE that is important, especially when you are on a hike and spot a bird quickly, and need to see it before it flies away!  In fact, that is THE most important thing and so, quality of glass aside, I take the body of the binoculars as seriously as the rest of the specifications (eye relief an incredible 19.5mm, field of view decent 6.3 degree).  These are simply a great "feeling" binocular.  I said it, I know that there is no science behind that.  But, this is a subjective measure of personal taste.

Best under $650 category:

Kowa 8-42BD Xll $606 (KOW-BD II XD 42-8)

Kowa 8x42mm BDII-XD PROMINAR Roof Prism Binoculars

My first impression of these was just the feel of the weight in your hands.  The construction and quality is superb.  I love the focuser, the eye pieces are generously sized with long eye relief (17mm) and cozy eyecups.  The ED(extra low dispersion) glass is exceptional at providing a flat field and colour corrected view!  Finally, the field of view is striking at 8.2 degrees!  (Wow!) What a mix of perfection for spotting, tracking, and seeing the details you want.  They are light!  At only 1.4 LB, they are easy to carry with the provided neck strap and they hold up well even in a light rain.  (I never recommend using optics in the rain, but sometimes you get caught in it!).  These are nothing less than a joy to look through, and I highly recommend them.

BONUS:  I highly recommend the following 3 part series guides by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!  Great for beginners and experienced birders alike.  See links below:

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series: 1 The Basics (

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series: 2 Dabbling & Diving Ducks (

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series: 3 Sea Ducks & Others (

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series:  1 The Basics

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series:  2 Dabbling & Diving Ducks

Waterford Press Waterfowl ID Series: 3 Sea Ducks & Others

I hope this short read helps you to discover your own preferences in binoculars.  As you can see, in all categories, my number one preference for birding is simple:  8x42, long eye relief, wide field of view.  I recommend trying some out in our storefront here, we have plenty of demonstration models to try out.  Stay tuned for another blog I will post soon about spotting scopes.  And of COURSE, great binoculars for STARGAZING.  Thank you for reading, Shannon.

2024 Apr 11th

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