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Gadgeteer bird watching?

I have 3 bird seed feeders, 2 suet feeders and a thistle feeder within viewing distance from my couch. I enjoy watching the birds on the weekends when I sit there eating my breakfast in the morning. Every so often, there will be a bird that I can’t quite see well enough to figure out what it is. At these times I would like to reach for a pair of binoculars to help me with identification. The thing is that I’ve always had trouble seeing through binoculars because I wear glasses. Any other bird watching geeks out there that know a good solution for me?

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Tyler Puckett April 13, 2008, 12:53 am

    They may be hard to find, but binoculars with diopter correction do exist. These have additional lenses in the back (towards the eye) that can be set to provide the same amount of correction as your glasses, so you can use them without glasses on.

  • Paul Biba April 13, 2008, 8:04 am

    You need two things to use binoculars with glasses, as I do. First, as the above person said, diopter correction. You focus one of the oculars on the target and turn the lens mount of the other ocular so that that side is in focus also. This is because each of your eyes has a different correction. Tyler is wrong about this being hard to find. Any decent set of binoculars includes this as standard.

    The second thing you need is what is called large eye relief. That is, the binocular needs to give you a good field of view when the lenses are away from your eyes, as your glasses prevent the oculars from getting close to your eyeball. Again, this is pretty common on a good pair of binoculars. Just check the specs and the larger the eye relief the better. One trick is to take off any rubber eyecups so that you can get the oculars closer to your glasses.

    I have glasses and use binoculars a lot. I have never had any trouble with Nikon or Canon units. You might want to check out the image stabilized Canons. The price is pretty reasonable for the 10 power unit and they work like a charm. Hit the button and your shaky image becomes rock solid. I swear by mine.

  • Julie April 13, 2008, 8:11 am

    Thanks for the advice so far! :o)

    What do you all think of monoculars? Would they be easier or harder to use?

  • Paul Biba April 13, 2008, 8:55 am

    They are harder to use because it is harder to hold them steady. Also the monocular view is rather “flat”. They are really meant for specialized applications.

  • Julie April 13, 2008, 9:22 am

    Thanks for that info Paul! I’ll quit looking at the monos and go with your advice for finding a good pair of binoculars.

  • Geakz April 13, 2008, 10:21 am

    Once you get your optics worked out, head over to GeoBirds.com. Free registration allows you to post, by location, what you’ve seen. Find others in your area and what they’ve spotted.
    They have a helpful online identifier called BirdBrain. So when you finally DO see your feathered friends, you can figure out that it’s a Green Tufted Blarmey and not a Moffit Plumed Bunting.

    [Edited at April 13, 2008 10:23:32 AM.]

  • Smitty April 13, 2008, 11:56 am

    I agree with the diopter adjustment, but find it more comfortable to lift my glasses and put the eyepieces over my eyes. Unless you have a large variance in correction between your eyes, you just follow the same steps as Paul outlined above with your “naked” eyes. No sense correcting the image after it’s gone through the prisms – just let that one optical system do it all.

    [Edited at April 13, 2008 11:57:15 AM.]

  • Julie April 13, 2008, 2:24 pm

    Geakz:

    We think we saw a Brown Headed Cowbird today. :o) No, I’m not making that up.

    Smitty:

    I should have mentioned one more wrinkle … I’ll be sharing these binoculars with another person. So, adjusting them specifically for my eyes only will be problematic. I suppose I could buy two sets though…

  • Geoff April 13, 2008, 3:15 pm

    I’m with Smitty. I use binoculars all the time when Geocaching, and just whip off my glasses and hold ‘em right up to my eyes. They adjust to compensate for my nearsightedness. Granted, someone else would probably pass out if they held them up to their eyes.

  • DMS April 14, 2008, 12:01 am

    Have you thought about a spotting scope? It may be too powerful and you have to get one that can focus closely. However, it does have the advantage that you can leave it on a tripod and eliminate scope movement. Also, I believe that you can set up your camera to take pictures through the scope.

    DON

  • Julie April 14, 2008, 10:23 am

    DMS:

    Nope, I didn’t think about a spotting scope. Not sure I want to leave something setup all the time in front of the window. I have a cat that likes to fly around the house and I could just imagine him knocking it over. Having the ability to attach a camera to it would be very cool though!

    BTW, if you guys haven’t checked out the geobirds site that was mentioned above, please do so, it’s really nice! :o)

  • Tyler Puckett April 15, 2008, 4:25 pm

    I have always liked the idea of buying a telescope that can mount on my camera. Are they expensive? I have a Nikon D40, so it must be able to mount to Nikon F mounts.

  • David Simpson April 18, 2008, 10:35 am

    Julie, Julie, Julie. You ARE the Gadgeteer!!!!

    Get a few HD cameras and set them up with remote controls!!!

    Then you can post the birds you see too! Or watch the birds while working on a review!!!!

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