Spotting scopes for bird watching: everything you need to know


The arrival of winters is indeed a pleasant emotion for everyone and a little more for bird watchers, because with the autumnal migration arrive the bewitching flocks of migratory birds. And all bird watchers insist on getting the most out of it, but for a new bird watcher the question arises, “Do I need a spyglass?” »Specifically for waterfowl and shorebirds!

It’s a matter of complete self-decision – only you decide if it’s worth the investment. There are various advantages and disadvantages of buying and using a spotting scope, which I will expand on here. Also, the question here is whether it is worth investing in a spotting scope at this point. First let’s start by understanding what exactly a spyglass is and how it works.

What is a spyglass? What can he do for me?

A spotting scope is a compact tool optimized at high power for the detailed observation of distant objects. It looks like a small telescope with one eyepiece for observation, instead of two. Unlike handheld binoculars, it still requires a tripod to set it up and achieve maximum stability.

There are a multitude of uses for spotting scopes. It is most often used for bird watching, wildlife viewing, hunting, and astronomy. Whatever our hobby, the same criteria apply when choosing a spotting scope.

A telescope is also used for hunting and astronomy
Photo credit: Abhisheka Krishnagopal

A binocular has a magnification of 8×42 or 10×42, but a spotting scope takes the magnification to another level, typically from a range of 15-20x with zooming out to 40-60x when zooming in. It certainly helps us get a much clearer and better view of the subject that we are trying to observe from a distance. For starters, a binocular is always on hand, so first familiarize yourself with its use and then should you invest in a spotting scope.


Before opting for a spotting scope, you must refine the objectives. First you need to decide what (bird watching, hunting) and where (like low light environments) you are going to use it. However, performance in low light can be improved by using a larger lens, but the size and durability of the scope should be primarily considered. Choosing sealed units with a durable shield is always a bonus.


The main specifications to consider are its magnification and the diameter of the objective. In addition, the field of vision and eye relief should be well thought out, especially for eyeglass wearers. A unit at high magnification will always require a large objective. For example, a 60X magnification unit will need at least 80mm aperture (60×80). Another aspect to consider is the type of mounting system, i.e. whether a roof or a porro prism is used.

Considering the varied settings, here is a list of handy scopes to start your journey:

  • Vanguard Vesta 460A spotting scope: Lightweight and efficient with 15 to 50x magnification. The larger 60mm lens offers compact vision in low light conditions.
  • Celestron 52320 Landscout 10-30×50 spotting scope: Affordable, easy to use and perfect for any outdoor activity with 10-30x zoom.
  • Wellshot mk78070 25-75×70 spotting scope: The multi-coated optics equipped with the BK7 prism gives you bright and crystal-clear images. It is comfortable and practical.
  • Celestron Ultima 65 angled spotting scope: Features a T-mount thread on the eyepiece barrel, acts like an ultra telephoto lens, with 65-45x.
  • Belity 90x HD astronomical telescope Monocular refractor telescope Observation range: Entry-level refractive astronomical telescope with 50mm aperture, 1.5x straightening eyepiece and 360mm focal length, perfect for stargazing.

Spotting Scopes: Advantages

The best part of using an oscilloscope is having a much better detailed and clear observation of any target subject you have. For bird watching and stargazing, goggles are very useful as these activities do not require a lot of movement, so a telescope can be set up in a tripod and hands-free observation of our subject with minute detail can be carried out for an extended period of time.

Spotting Scopes: Disadvantages

To be fair, observing telescopes are expensive, and if you’re determined to use them for crisper, clearer, and magnified viewing, you have to pay a heavy price. Therefore, you should always remember to buy the absolute best that you can afford.

Unlike a monocular, scopes always need a tripod to function, so you need to budget well for this as a tripod can make or break your spotting scope experience. Sometimes carrying all this setup with your binoculars and camera can make things a little tricky if you have to travel long distances to your destinations.

abhishekakrishnagopal litter group x

The best part of using an oscilloscope is having a much better detailed and clear observation
Photo credit: Abhisheka Krishnagopal

Using spotting scopes: some things to consider

  • Oscilloscopes are complex units, so proper maintenance is essential. Always remember to wipe the lenses from the center outward and avoid touching them.
  • Storage of units is also crucial to reduce unwanted effects. The protective lens and dust caps are a must.
  • Always consider the level of your commitment to the hobby. Not having a telescope doesn’t make you a bird watcher or a stargazer. Your gears are never a status symbol, nor do they reflect your skills.

Make the most of it. Good bird watching and good discovery!

Somoyita Sur is a dynamic individual with a Masters in Zoology and Specialization in Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology from Gauhati University and is currently a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Zoology at Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam. She continues her research in the field of road ecology and is currently working on the interaction between animals and vehicles on National Highway 715, which passes through Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India. His area of ​​interest includes landscape planning and management in relation to linear infrastructures and their intrusions into critical areas. In addition, she is very attracted to herpetofauna and birds. She is passionate about the field of ornithology and is a regular bird watcher and e-Birder.

This series is an initiative of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), as part of their program ‘Nature Communication ‘ encourage nature content in all Indian languages. To learn more about birds and nature, Join The Flock.


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