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When it comes to the best spotting scopes for bird watching, there are different features to keep in mind versus what may be the most useful for hunting or use at the shooting range. For example, an angled eyepiece can make for more comfortable viewing and HD (high density) glass can produce better pictures for digiscoping.
We've kept these key differences in mind as we scoured through the hundreds of spotting scopes to choose four that were best suited for bird watching. Our top pick was the Nikon Prostaff Spotting Scope, but continuing reading to find out why.
Top Pick: Best Spotting Scopes for Bird Watching
This angled spotting scope has a 20-60x magnification range and a wide 82mm objective lens. This gives plenty of power to see birds at a distance, while the wide objective lens takes advantage of the lighting so that you can get a clear, sharp image even at dawn, dusk, or in overcast conditions.
Measuring 15.5 inches long and weighing 4.1 pounds, this scope is a good sized yet light enough that it won't be tippy on a tripod. It also includes a built-in sliding sunshade, wide field of view at lower magnification, and enhanced eye relief. It is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof and fog proof.
Pros & Cons
The scope was designed with the birder in mind and so has a more compact size and weight, making it travel easy. The angled eyepiece prevents back and neck strain. It has a rugged construction and generous objective lens that lets in a lot of light.
There is also internal texturizing that minimizes reflective light loss within the scope to provide and even brighter image. While not being an entry level spotting scope, the quality is far greater than one would expect at this price. While it is relatively lightweight, the combination of a sturdy tripod may be a bit cumbersome for some when backpacking or hiking.
Leupold Kenai 64310 Spotting Scope
Note: This product has been upgraded and replaced by the Leupold Kenai 2.
This spotting scope has a magnification range of 25-60x and an 80mm objective lens. This HD spotting scope for bird watching also features a dual lens system, with a 30x wide angle eyepiece and a 25-60x zoom eyepiece. This ensures that you will have a clear image with sharp details regardless of what magnification you use and what the lighting conditions are.
These bird watching spotting scopes also come with a compact yet adjustable tripod with a multi-directional tilting head, a soft carrying case, and a reinforced hard-shell carrying case to provide extra protection in storage or while traveling.
Pros & Cons
This spotting scope comes with everything you need to head out and find out what birds are frequenting your area. While the tripod is adjustable, it may not extend far enough for taller individuals. Leupold is known for their quality optics and the HD glass of this scope will provide you with great images with sharp details and color fidelity.
The two carrying cases provide flexibility whether you're headed outdoors or packing up your scope for that once in a lifetime trip. This is a mid-priced scope, but the retail price of just over $1000 may make it a bit impractical for some, regardless of how good the optics are.
Redfield Rampage 114651 Spotting Scope
With a 20-60x magnification range and 80mm objective lens, this spotting scope provides clear images with edge to edge details even at higher magnification.
It comes with many extras, such as a tripod, a soft view-through carrying case, and a larger carrying case with a shoulder strap. It also comes with lens caps, the cap for the eyepiece being metal and screwing over the entire assembly to offer additional protection.
Pros & Cons
This spotting scope has plenty of power to spot birds out a distance with the clarity necessary for digiscoping. The view-through carrying case provides extra protection while outdoors to the already tough rubber armor housing.
This scope is more affordable than others in this list, retailing at just under $400. While it has a nice compact size of 16 inches, the weight is a bit heavier at about 6 pounds.
Tasco World Class WC20608045 Spotting Scope
This is one of the most compact and lightweight scopes in this list, measuring 17.5 inches long and weighing just 2.6 pounds, making it pack easily for your next hiking trip.
The 20-60x magnification range will give you plenty of power to take in every last detail while the 80mm objective lens lets in a lot of light and provides a wide field of view at lower magnification levels.
This scope also features fully coated optics and BK-7 Porro prisms. This bird watching spotting scope comes with a tripod that can be mounted to your car or truck window to give you versatility in viewing. It also comes with a hard and soft carrying case.
Pros & Cons
This spotting scope has great optics at a rather affordable pricing, retailing at about $200 with considerable discounts available. This scope is waterproof and fog proof, with a rubber armored housing to provide shock resistance. While it does come with a versatile tripod that can be mounted to your vehicle window, like most included tripods, the quality is lacking and the scope does not balance properly upon it.
Which are the best spotting scopes for bird watching?
When it comes to bird watching, spotting scopes need to have slightly different features than one needs for hunting or even use at the shooting range. An angled eyepiece provides a lot of comfort and higher quality optics that allow for clearer pictures to be taken through the scope are very useful.
In comparing the features of these best spotting scopes for bird watching, we felt the Nikon Prostaff Spotting Scope met the needs of the birders better than the others and offered a surprising amount of quality and performance for the price.