5 Best Birding Scopes

best birding scopes

May 23, 2020 • Product, Tips & Lists • Views: 10294

See birds from up close.

Bird-watching is, by all means, a great experience, which becomes unparalleled if you have the right equipment. Nothing compares to a close-up view of a stunning bird in the wild. By choosing the best spotting scope for birding, you’ll get the chance to distinguish different species of birds and appreciate them from a closer angle.

In order to help you to make a sensible purchase, we’ll provide you with information concerning the features that account for a high-quality birding scope so that it provides value for your money. Therefore, how do you select the best birding scopes?

1. What to Look For in the Best Bird Watching Scopes

  • Magnification power

Typically, a positive magnification range for your birding scope should be between 15-60x. If it’s below 15, it would be the same as if you were using your binoculars. However, when the magnification is above 60x, the field of view is narrowed, and the brightness of the image diminishes, especially if the light conditions aren’t as promising. Therefore, opting for a magnification power that ranges from 20 to 40x is ideal, enabling you to enjoy a good field view, and excellent image brightness suitable for birdwatching.

If you want to opt for increased magnification, remember that the quality of the prisms and lenses grow in importance. In other words, if the magnification is high, the objective lenses should also be larger, to support high-quality images.

  • Objective lenses

Secondly, the size of the objective lenses is equally important, as it influences the light-gathering capacity of your birding scope. The more light you have, the clearer, and brighter the image will be.

Normally, objective lenses for bird watching scopes vary from 50-80mm. Also, a larger objective equals an increased weight, and, of course, an expensive purchase. Many people fail to factors this in. When browsing for best birding scopes, get the largest objective according to how much you’re willing to invest and carry.

If you’re not eager to carry your bodyweight in objective lenses, an 80mm lens will provide you with a high image quality, in almost all lighting conditions. Remember to consider the area you’ll be birdwatching as well.

  • Fog and waterproofing

The largest majority of standard scopes will behave fine in all weather conditions, including humidity and rain. Therefore, unless you plan birdwatching in adverse, humid weather, you shouldn’t worry about it too much. If, you’ll be doing birdwatching in the proximity of water, splashes, and the possibility of incidents is high, water-resistant birding scopes are ideal.

Additionally, pay attention to fog proofing, which prevents internal fogging, when the temperature alters drastically, particularly when the weather is increasingly humid. However, it all depends on your plans, and the weather climate and conditions in which you are going to use your birding scopes.

2. Five Options for Best Birding Scopes

2.1. Celestron 52250 80mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

This product is among the best spotting scopes for birding as it provides a sharp and bright image. Additionally, another advantage that comes with purchasing this product is that it’s equipped with an excellent light transmission, due to the multilayer antireflection coatings of the objective lens. Thirdly, this spotting scope model features a waterproof design, which protects the equipment when it’s mounted on the tripod as well.


  • Sharp image
  • Great light transmission
  • Waterproof


  • Not too great on long distances
  • Blue fringing when zooming

2.2. Vortex 20-60×85 Razor HD Spotting Scope

This scope provides the buyer with incredible detail, and minimum to none chromatic aberration, meaning no annoying color distortion. Focusing is quick, and effortless, as the optics are bright and clear. Plus, it’s equipped with waterproof feature and anti-fog performance, which inhibits internal fogging. However, this product doesn’t come with a built-in quick-release shape. Plus, the model is a bit heavy, which may make carrying it around unpleasant. However, it goes without saying that the higher the quality, the more burdensome the birding scopes.


  • No chromatic aberration
  • Clear optics
  • Anti-fog feature


  • Too heavy
  • Strap connections aren’t good enough and the scope leans forward

2.3. Barska Blackhawk Spotting Scope 20-60x 60mm with Tripod and Hard Case Rubber Armored

This Barska birding scope is equipped with optimal waterproof and fog-proof feature, which is suitable for all-weather conditions. Secondly, the massive objective lens, together with the multi-coated optics grow the light gathering capability, in this way delivering light images, in dim environments. It’s a convenient purchase since it includes a soft carrying case, a tripod, and a premium hard aluminum case. On the other hand, the product is sensitive to windy weather and vibrations. Plus, the eye-relief is small, making it rather inconvenient to use for eyeglasses wearers.


  • It’s waterproof
  • Offers light images irrespective of the environment
  • Comes with a full package


  • Low-quality tripod
  • Sensitive to vibrations

2.4. Leica 10 x 32 Ultravid HD/Black Armored 40291

This product facilitates a great viewing experience, being equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The maximum contrast feature enables pin-sharp images. Plus, the Black Armored is ultra-light, and the rubber armor coating ensures maximum grip and protection, in spite of weather conditions. The main downside to this product is that the price is high, however, as the lenses are excellent quality, your birding experience will be unique – they’re easy to carry around and effortless to handle.


  • Superior technology
  • Sharp images
  • Lightweight


  • Quite expensive

 2.5. Swarovski Spotting Scope HD-ATS 80 High Definition Glass

Indeed, one of the best spotting scopes for birding, this product is equipped with a high-definition aluminum spotting scope, having an 88mm objective lens diameter. The lenses have been created based on the latest technology to minimize color fringing, and facilitate the viewing of excellent quality, contrasted pictures. The light transmission is remarkable, even in low light, or high magnifications. This product is relatively heavy, but as the quality of the image doesn’t subpar the reality, it’s imminent.


  • High-definition scope
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Works great in low light


  • Quite heavy product

3. Best Scope for Bird Watching Under $100

3.1. Yooeur 12X50 Monocular Telescope-Compact Short-range Spotting Scope-Waterproof Fog Dustproof- Single Hand Focus

This scope is characterized by the high-quality lenses, which facilitate a clear image, and diminish the occurrence of optical aberration. It may be used in all weather conditions, as it’s waterproof, dustproof and fog-proof. The magnification power is of 12×50, which enables the viewer to observe birds from a distance, and enjoy a clear, and bright image. This product is ideal for birdwatching, and nature viewing. As a downside, one has to adjust it continually, because, when fixed on the tripod, it becomes loose easily.


  • Top-notch lenses
  • Clear image
  • Fog-proof, dustproof and waterproof


  • Doesn’t stay fixed on the tripod
  • Not great in low-light situations

4. Best Scope for Bird Watching for Kids

4.1. TOMO Aoneky 8 X 21 Red Kids Binoculars for Bird Watching, Watching Wildlife or Scenery, Game, Mini Compact and Image Stabilized

This product certainly falls into the category of best birding scopes for children. It’s equipped with multi-layer coating technology, which makes the image appear increasingly realistic. Secondly, it’s perfectly designed for children, for birdwatching activities, as well as hiking, fishing, and other outings. Plus, it comes with a non-slip scratch feature. The main disadvantage to this product is that it doesn’t come with a neck strap, which may make it difficult for a child to carry the scope around.


  • Great image quality
  • Non-slip feature
  • Multi-layer coating technology


  • Doesn’t have a neck strap
  • Difficulties in focusing the image

5. How to Maintain your Birding Scope

Since a birding scope is a significant monetary investment, it’s important to acquire necessary information to keep the product clean and functioning. Take into account the following tips:

  • When the scope isn’t used, keep the lens covered.
  • Purchase a high-quality cover that will protect your scope’s body at all time, so you may unzip the cover and have immediate access to the lenses and eyepiece.
  • You should clean the scope in a safe area, and wipe the body by using a clean damp cloth. You shouldn’t touch the lenses, however.
  • Opt for a clean lens pen, or clean paintbrush for removing any dirt or residue on the lenses. Remember that you mustn’t apply heavy pressure as it may cause scratches.

6. Conclusion and Recommendations

Purchasing the best birding scope for your bird watching activities will positively alter your experience as a birdwatcher. In the same respect, we recommend you consider buying a qualitative tripod as well. That’s mainly because even the very best spotting scope for birding won’t provide you with high-quality images when fixed on a flimsy tripod. You should opt for a sturdy, rigid tripod that comes with few leg adjustments. Learn how to clean your scope accordingly, to safeguard the instrument’s functions and ensure its proper functioning for many years to come.

Hopefully, this guide on how to purchase the best spotting scopes for birding has been helpful. Happy shopping and thanks for passing by! 

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