Spotting scopes for bird watching: Everything you need to know


The arrival of winter is really a pleasant feeling for everyone and a little more for the birds because with the autumn migration comes the mesmerizing flocks of migratory birds. Every bird lover insists on using it, but asking a new bird “Do I need a spotting scope?” The question arises. Especially for waterfowl and coastal birds!

This is a complete self-determination question – only you can decide if it is worth the investment. There are various pros and cons to buying and using the Sporting Scope, which I will elaborate on here. Also, the question arises as to whether it is worth investing in Sporting Scope at this time. Let’s start first by understanding what a spotting scope is and how it works.

What is Sporting Scope? What can it do for me?

The Spotting Scope is a small high-power optimal tool for detailed observation of distant objects. It looks like a small telescope, with one eye instead of two. Unlike a handheld telescope, a tripod is always required to set it up and get maximum stability.

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

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A scope is also used for hunting and astronomy
Photo Credit: Abhishek Krishnagopal

A telescope has 8×42 or 10×42 magnification, but a spotting scope can take the magnification to another level. That means we are trying to notice. To get started, a telescope is always handy, so be comfortable using it first, and then you should invest in a spotting scope.


Before looking at the sporting scope, one must refine the goals. You must first determine what (bird, hunt) and where you are going to use it (such as low light environments). However, low light performance can be improved by using a larger objective lens, but the size and durability of the objective should be considered first. Choosing waterproof units with durable armor is always a bonus.


The key points to consider are its magnification and lens diameter. Also, vision and eye relief should be well thought out, especially for those who wear glasses. A high magnification unit will always require a larger objective lens. For example, a 60X magnification unit would require a minimum of 80 mm hole (60×80). Another aspect to consider is the type of erecting system, i.e. whether the roof or porpo prism is used.

Here is a list of convenient objectives to start your journey, taking into account the various parameters:

  • Vanguard Vesta 460A Spotting Scope: Lightweight and high performance with 15-50x magnification. The larger 60mm lens provides smaller vision in low light conditions.
  • Celestron 52320 Landscape 10–30×50 Spotting Scope: Affordable, easy to use and suitable for any outdoor activity with 10-30x zoom.
  • Wellshot mk78070 25–75×70 Spotting Scope: The BK7 prism-equipped multi-coded optics give you bright and crystal-clear images. It is convenient and practical.
  • Celestron Ultima 65 angle scoring purpose: The iPod has D-mount threading on the barrel, acting as an ultradelifocal lens with a 65-45x.
  • Beliti Astronomical Telescope 90x HD Monocular Telescope Refractive Spotting Scope: The entry-level refractive astronomical telescope has a 50mm aperture, 1.5x upright ipes and 360mm focal length, suitable for stellar viewing.

Spotting Objectives: Benefit

The best part about using a scope is having the most detailed and clear tracking of any target subject you have. To see the birds and see the stars, scopes are very helpful because these steps do not require much movement, so we can set a scope on a tripod and carry out our subject hands-free tracking for a long time with minute details.

Spotting Objectives: Disadvantages

The truth is, spotting scopes are expensive, and if you are committed to using it for crisp, clear and magnified observation, you will pay a high price. So you should always remember to buy the absolute best one you can.

Unlike a monocular, scopes should always have a tripod attached to it, so you should add a good budget for that, as a tripod can create or break the experience of finding your scope. Sometimes carrying this whole system with your telescope and camera can be a bit difficult if you want to travel long distances to your targets.

Purpose Team Abhishek Krishna Gopal x

The best part about using a scope is having the most comprehensive and clear attention
Photo Credit: Abhishek Krishnagopal

Using Spotting Scope: Some Things to Consider

  • Objectives are complex units, so proper maintenance is essential. Always remember to wipe the lenses outward from the center and avoid touching them.
  • Storage units are also important to minimize adverse effects. Safety lenses and dust caps are essential.
  • Always consider the extent of your commitment to entertainment. Lack of a scope will not turn you into a bird or star viewer. Your gear is not a status symbol and it does not reflect your skill.

Get the benefit of it. Happy bird and happy scoping!

Somoyita Sur holds a Masters Degree in Zoology and specializes in Animal Ecology and Wildlife Biology at Guwahati University and is currently a Doctoral Researcher in Zoology at Guwahati University, Guwahati, Assam. He continues his research work in the field of road ecology and is currently working on Animal Vehicle Communications on National Highway 715 passing through Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India. His areas of interest include landscape planning and management related to linear infrastructure and their penetrations into critical areas. Also, he is very impressed with herpetophilia and birds. He is interested in the field of ornithology and is a regular bird and an e-bird.

This series is an initiative Nature Conservation Trust (NCF), under their scheme ‘Natural contact ‘ To promote natural content in all Indian languages. To learn more about birds and nature, join the flock.


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