Binocular Guide by Jason Whitehead

Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) on Safari in The Gambia

My friend Jason Whitehead suggested that I add his binocular guide to this site. It’s a good guide so I am adding it here.

The guide explains the usual stuff about magnification and field width but it also tells you which binoculars are best under certain conditions. A higher magnification is good for waterfowl and birds of prey. A lower magnification might be better in the woods.If you wear glasses while using binoculars, then that is another consideration.

Enjoy! JOHN

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My Sister Site

I recently was made an offer to purchase I decided to purchase it as it would be considered a competitive site. There, I’m concentrating on more of the technical issues of birding rather than pointing out products. Enjoy!

Latest Review at Celestron 4

Celestron 71332 Nature DX 8×42 Binocular (Green)

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My Bird Feeder

Brome Squirrel Buster

Product Details

Brome Squirrel Buster is squirrel resistant. Will not hold fine seed Use sunflower seeds.

The pic above shows a recent purchased from Amazon which is more squirrel proof than the others. My wife’s caregiver said she saw a squirrel jump on the thing and reach in with his tiny paws to sneak a few seeds into his mouth, but mainly he had to get under the feeder to see if he could find some seeds that dropped. But he mainly has given up. (Well, there is always more than one squirrel.)

Actually, a squirrel will take swing at this feeder if he can reach it. Then some seeds drop down to the ground where he can get them. Well, squirrels have to eat. Don’t put fine seed in this feeder. Use sunflower seeds.

At first, only one finch showed up. Then more and more came to the feeder. Then I noticed the adults feeding their young at the feeder. So what I had witnessed was a new clutch spreading their wings. I’m not sure where the nest was. (That means, I don’t have a clue.)

Now we have finches, juncos and Eurasian Doves which are rapidly replacing Mourning Doves in Idaho. The does come to the bird bath first and then eat.

Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder 312C

Perky Pet Feeder. I have two (o=2) of these. They are squirrel resistant and I will probably by one (1) more for my front yard. It took the birds a few days to realize that it was a feeder. lol

When I first got these feeders, the birds didn’t know what the heck they were. After a week or so they caught on. Now they love them and so do I. For one thing, the squirrels can;’t figure them out and leave them a lone, being satisfied to eat off the ground. This feeder is great for both fine seed and sunflower seed.

What my birds usually eat:

I have eight (8) fruit trees. The robins and starlings love the cherries but have shown little interest in my apricots. However, the house finches that come to my feeder also like to peck on the apricots. If I wasn’t so old and feeble, I would plant some bushes around the place to feed the birds. Well, they have the grapes.

Bear Lake on the Idaho / Utah Border

Sandhill CraneIn August my daughter and her family took me to Bear Lake on the Utah / Idaho border. There saw two (2) of my favorite birds; Sandhill Cranes and Yellow-headed blackbirds. I remember about 70 years ago when I first saw Yellow-headed Blackbirds and American Avocets. I went crazy.

My son drove me to the refuge near Bear Lake a year or so ago to see the Sandhill Cranes raise their young.  (Grays Lake). I didn’t get over there on this trip.

I made a video of the bird feeder. It is now up on You. Here it is:



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How to Check Binocular Quality Video

How clear is the image on your binocs? Does it fade from the center? How about the color and tones. Are they true to the image. Here is how to check a new pair of binoculars or your own. There are more problems with low cost binoculars. You need good glass!

Oh, my daughter sent me a gift. 

Not the greatest book in the world. I have been birding for 70 years so I didn’t learn much if anything, but a new birder would enjoy this book and some who just like to here other birders gab. I’d give it 3 Stars ***


Western Grebe on the Bear River Bird Refuge in Utah.

Western Grebe on the Bear River Bird Refuge in Utah.

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Feeding the Birds and Squirrels MY Cherries!

I made a video of starlings, robins and squirrels eating my cherries and I put it up on It’s not there now. But the birds and squirrels are here again this year.

It started about a month ago. And we still have them. A pair of robins had a double clutch during this period and they fledglings were having their share too. It bothers my wife’s caregiver and my granddaughter that the cherry trees are supplying the whole bird population with my cherries.

I tell them that the birds and squirrels have to eat too. If they want cherries, they will have to compete with them.

Well, they did compete. My granddaughter’s husband brought a big ladder and was standing on the very top where you are not supposed to stand. But he got a ton of cherries. There are still a few left on the very top of my two trees and the birds get them.

It’s great to feed the birds. I just bought one of those fancy squirrel proof feeders from Amazon and it will be here today. My feeder has been feeding the squirrels for years and I’m a bit tired of them getting all the seed, knocking the stuff all over the lawn.

There are many plants that we can put in our yards to feed the critters. My daughter bought me a book for Father’s Day which describes what plants the birds like.

I have eight fruit trees and the cherries are not the only ones attacked. They seem to like taking a nibble out of my peaches and apricots and plums. The bugs love my apples but the pears seem pretty safe. I haven’t seen them in my grapes which surprises me because I know starling like grapes.

Feed the birds and critters.

Take pics and videos.

It’s fun!


PS: This video is interesting but fairly long so I put it at the end.

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Family Birding Is Fun

American Cardinal by my son, Barry.

American Cardinal by my son, Barry.

On Thursday, my son drove me to the Salt Lake City airport and we flew to Cleveland. My daughter and her family live there as does my Number II son. My Number I son drove over from Midland and his daughter with her baby came to see us from Detroit. After I got there, I wish that I had purchased a ticket for my son in Seattle to join us.

Promotory Warbler in my daughter's back yard.

Promotory Warbler in my daughter’s back yard.

Our Main objective was to do a little birding in Ohio, a good place to follow the warbler migration. We saw a promontory warbler through my daughter’s window. That and a goldfinch were our first birds. I had boned up for the trip by joining the Ohio bird list. My three sons and I, later joined by my granddaughter and her baby, headed for the birding areas north and west of Cleveland.

We did see too many species, far less than we expected, the migration was not yet in full swing. But we build a list and we had a good time.

My Number 3 son, Patrick, was not an ardent birding. Over the years, he had been with me on many birding trip, but his older brothers were always the birders. However, just over a year ago, I had Patrick drive me to eastern Idaho to the Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge to take a look at the nesting Sandhill cranes. That perked his interest, but he became the fanatic birder in Ohio enjoying himself with his brothers.

I knew that he was not much of a birder so I just brought him a small pair of binoculars that had plenty of power but the field was narrow and hard to get on the bird. We went to Walmart and then Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Dick’s had a sale on a pair of binoculars that looked very much like the Nikon babies that cost $2000. They (Vortex Crossfire 10 x 42) were on sale for $119. I took a look through them across the store, and decided I may as well buy me a pair also. After all, I only had about a dozen pair of binoculars at home. Because we had to take them from the case as they were not in stock, we got an extra 20% off.


My oldest Mark, then got excited about buying a scope, despite the fact that I told him I would send him one of mine. He bought the scope.

Now fully armed, we took off again.

Kirtland Temple built by early Mormons in Ohio. I about killed myself climbing the stairs.

Kirtland Temple built by early Mormons in Ohio. I about killed myself climbing the stairs.

When we started birding again, I started out with the gang but found that I could not walk. Climbing up six flights of stairs at the Kirtland Temple had done its job. My legs and back were just too sore to go on. I decided to sit in the park and let the birds come to me.

Flying from Cleveland to Denver on Sunday, we sat next to a lady out of Cleveland (Davidson) who lives up Fort Collins Way. Her husband ( was in Tibet. He is a climber who writes books. When the earthquake hit Nepal, he was above the slide area on Mount Everest. She said that he was trying to find refuge for the Sherpa’s families affected by the quake. A number of people were killed in slide including two Americans. According to the news, when the slide filled a depression area in the mountain, it displaced the air which formed hurricane winds that swept through the base camp shredding everything to ribbons and killing 17 climbers and injuring 37 others.

My son, Patrick and I were famished in Denver so we headed for the good restaurant recommended by our pilot. We had a lot more than we could eat. I think that this help bring on an angina attack in Salt Lake City, an opportunity to test the nitroglycerin theory. It worked.

When I got back to Idaho, I called my cardiologist’s nurse and told her that I have lied to the doctors telling him that I did not have angina.

I see him on Monday.


Promotory Warbler
black-capped chickadee
great egret
red wing blackbird
blue jay
yellow warbler
American woodcock
double crested cormorant (young and old)
song sparrow (I may have just heard it.)
ruby crowned kinglet
Downy woodpecker
Cooper’s hawk
Red tailed hawk
house wren
blue gray gnatcatcher
great blue heron
purple martin
blue winged teal
turkey vulture
American wigeon
peregrine falcon
northern shoveler
mourning dove
lesser yellow legs (prob not greater)
Herring gull
bonaparte gull
bald eagle
American coot
rock dove
brown thatcher
gray catbird
barn swallow
caspian tern
Forester vs common tern
tufted titmouse
great-horned owl
trumpeter swan
american avocet
chipping sparrow
pine siskin
house finch
(house sparrow and starling)


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The Value of Bird Sighting Reports

4212010 018Introduction

My Idaho son and I are going to Ohio in April to do a bit of bird study with my Michigan and Ohio sons and members of my Ohio daughters family. We will be at the tail-end of the warbler migration, but we expect to see a lot of birds.

Bird Lists

Whenever I go birding in a new area, I try to obtain a bird list for that area. They are available on the Internet, and if you go to a refuge, they will have a list in the refuge office.

42610 010In planning our trip, I decided to find some contacts in Ohio. This was easily to do and my sons and I are receiving daily reports from birders in Ohio. By reading the reports, you can see what birds are there at a given time. It happens to be a bird that we have not identified in the field before, we can take a peek into our field guides to check it out.

Ohio Ornithological Society

Note: Ohio-birds mailing list, a service of the Ohio Ornithological Society. Please consider joining our Society, at

Bird Songs

Bird songs are important in identifying sneaky creatures. I have bird songs on my reader. I never could figure out bird songs from the descriptions in the birding guides. I can listen to the song of a real bird on my reader.

Binocs vanGuEquipment I’m Taking To Ohio

I have four birding cameras. I think I will take two of them with us. My Idaho son can pack them and I’ll carry the other. I will take two pairs of binoculars. I like to use a 10 x 50 because of my old age and diminishing eyesight. My Idaho son can carry the traditional 8 x 30.

When you have so many cameras and binoculars, it’s hard to decide what to take with you.

But I am very excited about being able to get away for a few days.


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Best Small Binoculars



Small Binoculars

I always keep a pair of compact binoculars in my car. I usually have two or three other pair of binoculars in my car, but my compact binoculars are handy to grab what I want to look at something along the road or when taking a walk.

Compact binoculars can be placed in your pocket if your coat has big pockets. Now days, small binoculars have clear optics and significant magnification so that you can see that antelope on the hill that is 500 feet away at much higher magnification than the cheap binoculars that magnify only two or three times.

Some hunters prefer a pair of compact binoculars over more cumbersome binocular’s. Some carry a regular size of 8 x 30 or 10 x 50 binoculars, but not all others want to be laden down that much.

Some Small Binoculars are Less Than $10.00

You can buy a pair of small binoculars for less than $10. If you want to get fancy and have the cash, you can spend several hundred dollars. Usually, higher-priced binoculars are superior to low cost binoculars. They have better optics and they are more rugged. They might be waterproof too. Birders are often out in the rain so they like the waterproof feature. They also want rugged binoculars so they can be knocked around a bit, not on purpose of course, but by accident.

Back When I Was a Boy

The first pair of binoculars that I used for birding was an old army surplus pair of 8 x30 binoculars. When I was old enough to go to war, I use an exact pair as a forward observer during the Korean War. My first pair may still be around here somewhere. I can’t always find everything. Right now, I have binoculars of all sizes. That includes compact binoculars, regular size binoculars and giant binoculars.

I Have the Great and the Small

I have two pairs of Binoculars that are very good for looking into the sky at night, that is if you can hold them steady, I guess that’s why they came with a tripod, that are 100 X. I sometimes use them to spy on unsuspecting birds that are a long way away. I usually take them with me when I go with other birders. That way I can, another birder, or non-birder, to carry them for me under the guise that I am letting him use my most expensive binoculars.

Bird Watching Ladies Seem to Like Small Binoculars

I don’t think that compact binoculars are the very best for birding. However I see many birders using compact binoculars, especially the ladies. Small binoculars are great for children. The toy binoculars are worthless but for less than $10 children can enjoy a decent pair of binoculars. A few years ago I gave small binoculars to a number of my grandchildren. They make good gifts. I made a big hit!

How to Be a Scrooge

This year, my family decided that I should not give gifts to all my family members. They drew me a name from the families of each of my children. That way, in my old age when I am trying to take care my wife which takes tens of thousands of dollars every year, that I would not spend on 35 gifts for my living grandchildren, on about 40 or so gifts for my children and spouses, and on 24 gifts for my great-grandchildren. And the cost of mailing such gifts, and you get the idea of the cost.

I feel like Scrooge!

My Granddaughter in Alaska

My granddaughter, who lives in Alaska, has become an ardent birder. I got her name for Christmas and she wanted a premium bird guide. It was a pleasure to buy that for her and I heard that she was very excited to receive it. What birder wouldn’t be?

You Can Always Insure Binoculars

One thing about compact binoculars, if they suddenly disappear, you have not lost too much. I have had several pairs of these binoculars, but I think I only know where there is one now. Losing a small pair of binoculars that didn’t cost over $10 is not a national disaster. But if you lose a pair that cost you $350, that is another thing.

Your car or household insurance may cover your binoculars if stolen. American Express once bragged about covering lost or stolen articles purchased with their card. Maybe they still do.

Small Binoculars

Compact binoculars usually come with a fairly good case and a cleaning cloth. I don’t have an expensive pair of small binoculars. I don’t know if they have caps or not for the lenses. My compact binoculars do not. I think that lens caps are a nuisance and I’m always afraid of losing them when I drop them on the floor of my car or on the ground. If your lens caps falls and get covered with third, for heavens sake don’t put them back on the binoculars until they have been cleaned.

If you take care of your binoculars and keep the lenses from getting scratched, they will be useful for a very long time. Treat them gently. If you can’t do that, make sure they are rugged. Lenses are never rugged.

The criteria for buying a pair of binoculars is the same for compact binoculars. They need to serve your purpose. For birding or hunting, you want to have good optics that give you a bright clear image of the critter you are looking for. You need at least a magnification of eight times. You want them waterproof and rugged.

If you get a pair of compact binoculars and place them on the kitchen window, you can look at your bird feeder and identify the birds that are coming there for food. A birdbath, especially in winter, is very attractive to birds when they cannot find open water. Cold as it is outside, they still want to take a bath.

I realize that it is difficult to keep the squirrels out of your feeder and to keep the water from freezing in the birdbath. But it is worth it. Sometimes a sharp shinned hawk will swooped down to grab a bird, but sharp shinned Hawks migrate to the south. I have not seen them in the wintertime here in Idaho.

How to Care for Your Binoculars

Now that we are talking about the care of birds, let’s think about the love and care of our binoculars. Here is a reference for on the care and cleaning and lubricating of your binoculars:

Small Binoculars at Amazon

I went to Amazon and collected some information on compact binoculars. Maybe it will help you make a selection. The FTC wants me to tell you that the links in the table may pay me a small commission if you purchase a pair of binoculars at Amazon from one of my links in the table. There! I’ve been a good boy!

Small Binoculars at Amazon

Binocular NameDescriptionComments
10x25 Compact Waterproof binoculars
BK 7 prism with blue lenses
Stylish yellow and black rubber body
compact, light weight, and easy to carry
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Waterproof is a good feature for birders and the cost is low.
100% waterproof, O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for reliable
BaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics offer crisp clear images with improved light transmission
Non-slip rubber armor and Soft Texture Grip absorbs shock and provides a firm grip
10x magnification and 25mm objective diameter; 15-foot close focus distance; 12mm eye relief
Large center-focus knob for easy adjustments; Twist-up eyecups; Limited lifetime warranty
Waterproof and low cost.
Color: Black
76mm reflector telescope
Alt-Azimuth mount 6 x 24mm finder scope
Skywatch CD
25mm, 12.5mm & 4mm eyepieces
2.4x Barlow
Compact zoom binoculars with 7 to 15x adjustable magnification and 25-millimeter objective lenses
Fully coated optics for improved clarity and light transmission
Ergonomic rubber housing for a secure grip and shock resistance
Fold down eyecups for comfort
Space-saving folding design; limited lifetime warranty
Do you like zoom? I do for my weakening eyes. Better optics at a bit higher price.
Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups facilitate the easy positioning of eyes at the correct eye-point and allow for comfortable viewing during extended periods of use.
Multicoated lenses mean that images are going to be bright, rich with color and full of detail.
The ACULON T01 binoculars are designed to be as light as possible along with excellent ergonomics. This assures you will be comfortable and steady throughout extended periods of use.
A low price for Nikon. Who doesn't like Nikon?
Tasco's best-selling Essentials line balances optical performance and quality construction, at an affordable price
Rubber-armored housing absorbs shock and protects them from bumps and weather
Ultra-light binoculars offer outstanding compact performance with rugged, rubber armor for hiking, backpacking or bicycle touring
8X magnification, 21-millimeter objective lens, roof prism system, 383-foot field of view at 1,000 yards and 6.5-ounce weight
Includes limited lifetime manufacturer's warranty
My old standby. Inexpensive and easy to find elsewhere. I have been satisfied with these.
10 Times Magnification Compact Binocular
Nitrogen filled ; fog-proof and waterproof
Twist up Eye Cups to adjust eye releif
All Metal Construction
Fully Multicoated lenses for bright images with excellent contrast
Good stuff! A bit more money but worth it for the properties.
10x magnification, 42mm objective lens binoculars
Exceptional optics with ED Prime Glass, Ultra Wide Band Coatings, and RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
Ultra wide field-of-view with long eye-relief; locking diopter
Lightweight, magnesium chassis and soft touch grips; 100 percent waterproof/fogproof construction
Includes soft case and neckstrap
Higher cost but look at what you are getting. I have always been satisfied with my Bushnell binoculars.

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Birding Tip of the Week: The 2014 Christmas Bird Count

Nikon BinocsMy First Christmas Bird Count

I will never forget my first Christmas bird count. I was 13-year-old and Thayer D. (Turk) Evans who had just returned from the Pacific where he fought in New Guinea, a decorated war hero and well-know Utah bird artist, took me and some of the other boys on the Christmas Bird Count along the Jordan River which ran from the Ninth North Bridge to Cudahy Road. We counted 139 species and saw thousands of birds. The same count a few years later yielded only 13 species. Developers had build houses along the River and left no habitat for wildlife whatsoever.

The decline in habitat for wildlife began in 1847 when my great-, great great-,and great great great grandparents moved into the valley. My great grandfather who was born on the Sweetwater River in Wyoming was one-month old.

My old neighbor, Mr. Evans, told me when I was a boy that at the turn-of-the-century the Jordan River was a clear stream full of trout. When I was a boy, the Jordan River was a slow-moving cess pool where only carp and chubs could live, yet it still was good habitat for wildlife.

Jordan River in Israel

Jordan River in Israel

Note: The water flow into the Utah Jordan River can be controlled at Utah Lake. The River could be restored to its original state if the State of Utah decided to restore the habitat and provide trout fishing across the valley. Wildlife habitat should be restored along its banks even if they had to tear down a few houses. The geological twin River Jordan in Israel never was as messed up as the Utah Jordan. (Geographical Twins a World Apart National Geographic Magazine, December 01, 1958)

The 2014 Bird Count Will Soon Be Underway

To learn about this year’s count, go to:

You can find a local count by going to:

Note that the link in the first sentence is not very obvious to old folks like me.

Click on the link to find a count in your area. You will come up with this link: when you enter your Country and State or Province.

Our count here is Buhl, Idaho. Click on Compiler’s Comments and a black box will pop up giving you details of the areas covered. Call the compiler to join your local count.

You will be glad you did.


PS. Make sure you dress for your weather conditions, have a field guide to the birds that includes your area and a good pair of binoculars (8 x 30 is used by many birders but I like a bit more power for my tired old eyes.) Oh, have good shoes for hiking around your area. We don’t have active snakes her in Idaho in the wintertime. Check your area. You may need snake proof boots.

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Nikon 7576 MONARCH5 8 x 42 Binocular

Nikon Maonarch5Nikon 7576 MONARCH5 8 x 42 Binocular (Black) 

List Price 299.95 Price @229.95 Free Shipping with Amazon Prime. Save $73.00

In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
  • All MONARCH 5 binoculars are now built with Nikon’s premium ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass for a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view.
  • Almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor, the new MONARCH 5 is even easier to bring along on your next adventure.
  • Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses provide a high light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum.
  • It is equipped with user-friendly features such as Turn-and-Slide Rubber Eyecups, a Smooth Central Focus Knob and Flip Down Lens Caps.
  • Built for extreme use, the MONARCH 5 is waterproof, fog proof and has a rubber armored body for strengthened durability.
  • Shop Now!

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.1 x 2.4 inches ; 1.3 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • ASIN: B00C66C950
  • Item model number: 7576
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 
  • Shop Now!

  • Product Description

     Almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor and built with Nikon ED (extra-low dispersion) glass lenses, the new MONARCH 5 is a serious contender to be the “go-to” binocular for any outdoor enthusiast. The MONARCH 5 delivers sharp, high-contrast views that are the result of a state-of-the-art optical system. Featuring Nikon’s premium ED Glass lenses and Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coatings, the MONARCH 5 displays exceptionally accurate color reproduction and a clear, natural looking image. Each of its Eco-Glass lenses are Fully Multicoated to provide maximum resolution and light transmission. The MONARCH 5 binocular comes in black finish and is available in 8×42, 10×42 and 12×42 magnifications. It utilizes Nikon’s high-eye point design to provide a clear field-of-view and long eye-relief. The long eye-relief ensures a sufficient space between the user’s face and the binoculars’ eyecups to make them comfortable for everyone, even for those wearing eyeglasses. The turn-and-slide rubber eyecups make it easy to find the right eye positioning for extended periods of use. The MONARCH 5 also utilizes a smooth central focus knob that makes it easy to bring object into focus for fast viewing. Built for extreme usage, the MONARCH 5 is Nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed, making it completely waterproof and fog proof. A protective, rubber-armored coating strengthens its durability and ensures a non-slip grip during wet and dry conditions.


  • 5 Star “Perfect binoculars for birders looking to get their first serious set of field glasses. Lightweight, excellent clarity, great feel. Great buy.”
  • 5 Star “The optics are extremely clear, Easy to focus and comfortable to hold.They are waterproof and come with handy lens covers. My wife is quite pleased as it was her birthday present.”
  • 5 Star “I purchased these because they were highly recommended by the expert ornithologists at Cornell. I just got back from a bird count where I used them. The optics are sharp and the binoculars are comfortable to use. They are modestly priced for such fine optics.”


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