This Gift Guide has been updated for the 2015 Christmas Season
If you’re scratching your head about what to buy your birder friend, here I come to the rescue! Whether you’re doing Christmas shopping or birthday planning, you’ll find a wide selection of birding gift ideas here.
Gourmet Treats for the Birds
This month, my hungry backyard birds went through 30 pounds of sunflower seeds. They also engorged 5 suet cakes. Whenever I buy bird seed, I’m always tempted with gourmet treats – suet enriched with peanuts, seed cakes, mealworms, and special variety of blends designed to attract more songbirds.
Being on a budget, I usually stick to sunflower seeds, as they provide a lot of quality nutrition for low-cost. However, my brain is always wondering if I should try a new seed variety to attract new species. It is always a joy to have new birds to identify, learn about, and observe. Maybe even some new ones for my life list!
If you want to get something different from ordinary bird seed, I suggest Bluebird Nuggets, Peanut Nuggets, or perhaps woodpecker suet. Just maybe your gift will give them the gift of new bird sightings!
You can’t go wrong with a new Bird Feeder!
Once upon a time, I naively thought, ok, I have my bird feeders, they will last forever, no reason to ever buy another one. How wrong I was!
I made some mistakes with my first bird feeder purchases. I had a couple of cheap plastic ones. They weren’t designed well and water got in and some of the seeds were below where the birds could get to and they went moldy. Then I got tired of refilling the feeders all of the time, so I got a bigger feeder. My birds loved it, but it was also designed badly and I had the same problem. Also, it was made out of wood, which made it very difficult to clean.
My go-to feeders are metal now because I can spray them down with the hose and they don’t crack or rot or grow mold. I like this hanging feeder tray because lots of birds are comfortable in it. Some birds, like Juncos and Grosbeaks, won’t enjoy feeders with perches but they will come to a feeder like that.
Equipment for Recording Bird Songs
Just as each bird has its own pattern (identification marks), each bird species has its own bird songs and calls. Being able to make high quality sound recordings opens up many opportunities. Birders can play back the bird calls and then compare them to recordings that they can listen to online. Also, they can store the bird songs on their computer and share them with friends, family, and fellow birders.
I’m still an amateur when it comes to identifying birds by their songs, but some birders are really good at it. When I finally do make the connection that a certain sound I’m hearing is a certain bird, it’s like an “aha” moment. So that’s what’s in my yard! Finally, I’ve put the clues together!
If you think that the birder you know would be interested in recording bird songs, I recommend the Tascam DR-05. Its omni-directional stereo microphones will pick up bird songs from all around.
Binoculars are a Must-Have for All Birders!
I own several different binoculars, and there really is a difference in the quality. My favorite pair are the Nikon 10×42 Prostaff 7 Binoculars. I can see really well with them, even in low light, like in the early morning or evening. Even when looking through my living room window, these binoculars are always pleasing to use. They are also very easy to focus and adjust.
Whether I’m looking at the birds at my feeder, or at an eagle soaring overhead, I find myself reaching for these regularly. Sometimes a rare bird is mixed in with common birds, so being able to get a good look is critical to getting more lifers! (A lifer is a bird species seen for the first time.)
Not to mention that I just love watching bird behavior. Birds often fly with such elegance. And sometimes I get to see them fight in mid-air.
Getting Much Closer with a Scope
Scopes are very popular – if you go to a hot birding location like Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, you’re sure to many birders with scopes. The reason is that there are hundreds (thousands?) of birds so far away on the mud flats and distant shores that they are specks to the naked eye. There are also eagle nests in trees on distant mountainsides.
A scope like the Celestron Ultima 65 18 to 55×65 Straight Spotting Scope is perfect for watching and identifying distant birds. It gives the incredible magnification of a telescope, but with optics designed for terrestrial observation. It’s lightweight and easy to carry.
The Celestron Ultima 65 18 is described as “impressive for the money.” It has multi-coated optics, a zoom eyepiece for up to 55x magnification, and can be connected to a DSLR camera for photography (this is called digiscoping).
Gift Items for Cold Weather Birdwatching
Do they live in a cold climate? If so, and if it’s the fall or winter time currently, then a gift designed to give them comfort while outdoors might be much appreciated!
Some places actually have more bird species in the fall and winter time, so hiding inside on the coldest days might mean missed opportunities.
The birds have feathers to fluff up, but all we have is skin. So pile on the clothes. For the cold weather birder, I recommend wool socks, something for those legs (flannel-lined jeans or long underwear), multiple layers, a hat with ear flaps (maybe even one with a balaclava), and gloves. You could give them a gift card to an outdoors clothing store and they could pick out what they like.
One item that requires no sizing is a hand warmer! This zippo hand warmer gets very good reviews. It’s reusable so, unlike chemical based hand warmers, it will never expire!
Gift Items for Warm Weather Birdwatching
At the opposite time of the year, I find myself reaching for the sunscreen and bug spray! My summer time hat is a broad-rim sun hat like the Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II. It has a drawstring so that it does fly off, and vents for cooling.
Summer time birding definitely requires less preparation than winter time adventures!
How about a Spectacular set of DVDs?
Have you watched any good bird documentaries lately? I highly recommend the DVD Series, The Life of Birds, produced by BBC and hosted by David Attenborough.
They used new technology and human patience and persistence to capture bird behavior never seen before! They use ultra slow motion cameras to record bird flight and infra-red cameras to record birds in caves.
Watch kiwis, owls, eagles, dippers, herons, gulls, woodpeckers – just to name a few species in this amazing series!
Gifts for the Birder who Has Everything Else
If they’ve been birding for a long time, maybe they already have all of the gear that they want (or the only stuff they don’t have, you couldn’t possibly afford), and maybe they already own a whole library of ornithology books and DVDs.
In that case, I suggest these unique gift ideas:
A nerdy and fun game!
Perfect for parents or grandparents who would enjoy playing it with the family. It can be a really fun way to teach kids about birds too, as the beautifully illustrated birds have their names listed, so you don’t have to know their identification prior to playing.
You know a game is really good when kids enjoy playing at home and teachers can use it as part of their curriculum!
Beautiful Bird Scarf
A gorgeous and beautiful scarf for her!
Very soft and well made, despite is being a really low cost point.
This has great reviews by others who have given it as a gift. The birds look realistic, but not from my backyard, so I can’t identify them.
Bird Decorations for the Home
So many artists love birds, so you will have no trouble finding bird paintings, bird calendars, and other items for the home. If you know what their favorite bird species is, you might be able to find something specific to that. Songbirds (like Chickadees), owls, birds of prey (like American Bald Eagles), and hummingbirds are popular favorites.
This colorful decorative cast-iron fan is sure something they probably don’t already have! It’ll probably surprise them. It’s so unique that any visitors will certainly comment on it and it might be quite a conversation piece.
Fill A Coffee Mug Up with Some Small Treats
Sometimes a combination gift is the best way to go. I often live to give an assortment of small things, and a very nice coffee mug can be just the right container. The small things I would choose depend on the person, but they might be one of the following: candy, tea bags, coffee samplers, gift cards/money, or jewelry.
Essential Books for Birding
A bird guide might make the perfect gift for the new or beginning birder. Good identification guides provide details about which marks and what coloration to look for. The ones referenced most often by other birders are The Sibley Field Guides. You should choose the one that covers their location. If you know that they are planning a birding trip, you could search for books about that area and buy them a guide that’s specific to that local. Also, sometimes you can find books about WHERE to go birding in a particular state or region, and that can be immensely helpful.
Beautiful Jewelry for Bird Lovers
I think this is a beautiful necklace featuring birds on a branch pendant with baby birds.
I guess I will stop here. I hope that gives you some ideas to get you started.
Finding the right gift can be challenging. I tried to cover all of the bases, from tech gadgets and equipment to decorative items, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few hot items. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment on this article.