Are you looking for a great gift for a birdwatcher or birder? Then you’ve come to the right place! As avid birdwatchers who sometimes drift into the world of birders, I have some suggestions that should be spot on.

Though you may be wondering why I differentiate between the two. I think it could make a difference in the gift you decide to buy. Let me explain.

What is a Birdwatcher?

A birdwatcher is someone who loves to watch birds. They are happy watching birds from their living room window, while strolling in Central Park, hiking in the mountains, beach combing along a sandy shore, or admiring the visitors at multiple feeders at an ecolodge. Some birdwatchers prefer colorful birds or are partial to a particular family of birds, like hummers. Overall, they just enjoy birds period.

What is a Birder?

A birder, on the other hand, is slightly more serious in their approach to birdwatching.

A birder often has a particular species in mind. For example, “I want to see a Long-Wattled Umbrella Bird.” Or they want to see a particular event, like the mating dance of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

A very dedicated birder might also try to see every species of bird possible in an area. They are often atune to bird calls and to bird behavior as those are clues to seeing the birds in the field.

What Do Birdwatchers and Birders Have in Common?

Often, the thing that birdwatchers and birders have in common is a love of birds. They donate to conservation causes that protect birds and their habitat. They belong to organizations like the Audubon Society or the American Bird Conservancy.

And when both birdwatchers and birders see a species they have never seen before, it’s called seeing a lifer. Many keep track of their lifers on their eBird account or by making a notation in their favorite birding book(s).

The latter is like my Dad. He creates acronym for each date and location he visits on a list in the back of his bird book. Then he places that acronym next to the birds he spotted on that trip. He doesn’t use this only for lifers but it does help create a list of all the birds he has seen during his life.

Many of Us Are On the Scale in Between

Sometimes, a person will be a blend of both birdwatcher and birder. That’s me. I don’t keep a great life list but I do attempt to keep track of the species I have seen. I don’t try to see every species possible at a location. I prefer to focus on birds that are easier to photograph than those hidden in the brush.

But I do get excited to see certain species. On my last trip to Ecuador, I was thrilled to see the Black-breasted Puffleg at Zuroloma and the White-tipped Sicklebill at Mashpi-Amagusa. Those are birds I have been trying to see for a long time!

Why Does This Matter?

All this is to say that you need to know where your birder-birdwatcher stands on the continuum. Do they already own a pair of Swarovski binoculars? Then thats a sign they are a birder and have some serious goals in mind. Consider gifts to help make them more comfortable out in the field because they are likely to spend hours in all kinds of weather conditions.

What follows are a list of items that Scott and I are using or really wish we had based on recommendations of friends. We hope that you find a great gift for the birder, birdwatcher in your life!

North American Bird Watching for Beginners

Ideal for beginning birdwatchers wanting to improve their at birdwatching skills.

Becoming a good birdwatcher means developing the skills to identify birds from their look, their behavior, and their location. This book is a great gift for teens and adults wanting to get started on becoming a more than casual birdwatcher. Also, I chose the spiral bound as it is easier to use when trying to see birds out your window while also looking in a book. Alternatively, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology store on Amazon. They have many other books that may be a good fit for your birdwatcher!

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Bushnell Falcon Binoculars (7×35)

Affordable binoculars for beginning birdwatchers

These are very like the first set of binoculars I started with – same brand, different model. Usually available for less than $50, they are a great gift for kids and adults wanting to get started with their first pair of binoculars for an affordable price.

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Athlon Optics 8×42 Binoculars

Great for birdwatchers looking to upgrade basic binoculars.

Scott purchased these binoculars after reading an excellent review that recommended them over other, more expensive brands. He has owned his pair for a couple of years and has never looked back. You might be tempted to purchase the stronger 10×42 instead. Only do so for advanced birdwatchers or birders as the field of vision is less, making it harder to find a bird in the distance.

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Nikon Shoulder Harness

Perfect for beginning birdwatchers or for birders who haven’t tried a shoulder harness.

A shoulder harness is great for keeping the weight of your binoculars off your neck and better distributed across your back and shoulders. I owned this Nikon shoulder harness for about 5 years before the leather Nikon piece in the middle cracked and broke. Not bad for an item that cost about $20. If you would like to spend slightly more, consider looking at the Vortex Binocular Harness Strap, also on Amazon.

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National Geographic Birder’s Life List and Journal

For dedicated birders keeping a life list of North American Birds. Bonus – it’s also a journal!

 This is a gift for the dedicated birdwatcher or birder, those that want to keep a physical copy of their life lists. You know your birder best – is this the right gift for them?

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Squirrel Buster Legacy Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder

Who doesn’t love a bird feeder? This is a great gift for all our bird-loving friends.

Bird feeders are always welcome at a birder’s home. We own several different kinds and are always happy to own one more. A feeder like the one pictured may not work for someone living in an apartment. But maybe a window bird feeder would suffice? If they already have seed feeders, how about a suet feeder, especially one that prevents the squirrels from hogging the suet? If they already own a lot of bird feeders, it could be time to buy a double sheperd’s hook so that they can add some new ones to their garden!

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