Spotting Scopes for Birdwatching: All You Need to Know


The arrival of winter is indeed a pleasant feeling for all and a little more for the birds, as with the fall comes flocks of migratory birds. And every birdwatcher insists on making the most of it, but for a new birder the question arises, “Do I need a spotting scope?” Especially for waterfowl and shorebirds!

This is a completely self-determining question – it is only you to decide whether it is worth the investment. There are many advantages and disadvantages to buying and using a spotting scope, which I will elaborate on here. Also, the question that arises here is whether it is worth investing in spotting scope at this time. Let’s first start with understanding what exactly a spotting scope is and how it works.

What is a Spotting Scope? What can it do for me?

The spotting scope is a compact high-power optimized instrument for detailed observation of distant objects. It looks like a small telescope with one eyepiece instead of two for viewing. Unlike handheld binoculars, it always requires a tripod to set up and achieve maximum stability.

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

A scope is also used for hunting and astronomy.
photo credit: Abhishek Krishnagopal

A binocular has 8×42 or 10×42 magnification, but a spotting scope takes the magnification to another level usually starting with the 15-20x range while zooming in and zooming out to 40-60x. It certainly helps us to get a clearer and better view of any far right. The topic we are trying to look at. To begin with, a telescope is always handy, so get comfortable using it first and then you should be well on your way to investing in a spotting scope.


Before moving into the spotting scope, the targets must be refined. You must first decide what (bird farming, hunting) and where (like in a low light environment) you are going to use it. Although low-light performance can be improved by the use of a larger objective lens, consideration should be given primarily to the size and durability of the scope. Choosing a waterproof unit with a durable shield is always a bonus.


The main specifications to consider are its magnification and lens diameter. Also, the field-of-view and eye relief should be well thought out, especially for glass wearers. A higher magnification unit will always require a larger objective lens. For example, a 60X magnification unit would require at least an 80mm aperture (60×80). Another aspect that has to be considered is the type of erecting system, ie whether a roof or porro prism is used.

Considering various parameters, here is a list of convenient areas to start your journey:

  • Vanguard Vesta 460A Spotting Scope: Lightweight and high performance with 15-50x magnification. The large 60mm lens provides compact viewing in low light conditions.
  • Celestron 52320 Landscout 10–30×50 Spotting Scope: Affordable, easy to use with 10-30x zoom and perfect for any outdoor activity.
  • Wellshot mk78070 25-75×70 Spotting Scope: The multi-coated optics equipped with BK7 prism provides you with bright and crystal-clear images. It is comfortable and practical.
  • Celestron Ultima 65 Angled Spotting Scope: The eyepiece features T-mount threading on the barrel, which serves as an ultratelephoto lens with the 65-45x.
  • Beliti Astronomical Telescope 90x HD Monocular Telescope Refractor Spotting Scope: Entry-level refractive astronomical telescope with 50mm aperture, 1.5x erecting eyepiece and 360mm focal length, perfect for stargazing.

Spotting Scope: Pros

The best part of using a scope is that you have a better detailed and clear overview of whatever target subject you have. For birdwatching and stargazing, scopes are very helpful because these activities don’t require a lot of movement, so a scope can be set up in a tripod and capture minute details with hands-free observation of our subject. period can be done.

Spotting Scope: Cons

Frankly, spotting scopes are expensive, and you’ll pay a hefty price tag if you’re dedicated to using it for more crisp, clear, and magnified observation. That’s why you should always remember to buy the best that you can afford.

Unlike a monocular, the scope always requires a tripod with it to function, so you should include a good budget for it, as a tripod can make or break your experience of opening the scope. Sometimes carrying this whole setup along with your binoculars and camera can get a bit rough if you want to travel long distances to your destination.

Vertical Group Abhishekkrishnagopal x

The best part of using Scope is the better detailed and clear overview
photo credit: Abhishek Krishnagopal

Using a Spotting Scope: Some Things to Consider

  • Workspaces are complex units, so proper maintenance is essential. Always remember to wipe the lenses from the middle to the outside and avoid touching them.
  • Storage units are also important to minimize adverse effects. Protective lenses and dust caps are a must.
  • Always consider your level of commitment to the hobby. Not having a scope doesn’t make you less of a birder or a stargazer. Your gear is never a status symbol, nor does it reflect your skills.

Make the most of it. Happy birding and happy scoping!

Somoyta 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 Research Fellow at the Department of Zoology, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam. She is doing her research in the field of road ecology, and is currently working on animal vehicle connectivity in National Highway 715, which passes through Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India. His area of ​​interest includes Landscape Planning and Management and his infiltration in critical areas with respect to Linear Infrastructure. In addition, she is highly attracted to herpetofauna and birds. She is interested in the field of ornithology and is a regular bird and an e-birder.

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