Scope Out the Right Spotting Scope

Photo: J. Mark Bertrand, Flickr Creative Commons

Spring migration is just around the corner. The sun is starting to shine a little brighter. We have an extra hour of daylight. Now’s the time to polish your birding gear and get outside.

Do you have the optics you need?

On bird walks, are you always waiting in line to use the guide’s spotting scope? Maybe your binocs just don’t cut it anymore? Have you been thinking about purchasing a spotting scope for years, only to be frustrated by the cost or overwhelmed by too many options?

In the Mar-Apr Audubon, National Audubon’s Wayne Mones offers tips for the nerve-wracking-yet-exciting process of selecting a scope. (Mones also offered tips for buying binocs, in a pullout from our Nov-Dec issue.)

A few things to consider when embarking on this journey:
- Will you purchase a scope with a straight or angled body? (Mones strongly recommends the latter, for its ease-of-use and convenience when sharing with others.)
- What size scope will you choose?
- Will you buy a zoom or fixed-power wide-angle model?

Before you make a final decision, attend field trips and birding festivals, and ask a lot of questions. “Since a spotting scope is a major investment, and since you will probably buy only one (okay, maybe two—three at the outside) in your lifetime,” reads the pullout intro, “you will really want to get it right.” Let Mones help you make an informed choice.

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