Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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or a spotting scope that makes you uneasy in its length or bulk, is unlikely to add to the pleasure of a day afeld whatever their optical superiority. Sheer mass is part of it, of course, but careful design can make even relatively heavy binoculars easier to handle than some lighter models—and, as the author reminds us, using a harness rather than a single strap can make a big difference. Sport Optics also provides purchasers with a brief set of tests to assess the mechanical and optical ftness of a spotting scope or pair of binoculars; for many users, these two pages will be among the most useful of the entire book and are certain to make birders more confdent as they face the biggest equipment choice they are likely to ever make. Hale ends his book with a fnal, onepage chapter, "What New Technology Will Be Coming?", a bulleted series of predictions as fascinating for the layman as it may well prove inspiring for the specialist. With his fnger still frmly on the industrial pulse, Hale suggests that we can look forward to better-quality glass at lower prices, with new types of coatings to entirely eliminate glare and internal refection. He also anticipates new image-stabilization technologies that do not increase the weight of the instruments that use them. Most intriguing, perhaps, is the suggestion that spotting scopes—limited, not that long ago to 30or 40-power eyepieces—may go beyond even the 60-power magnifcation that is now largely standard. Just how far in the future such things are, no one can say. What is obvious, though, is that we are fortunate already to live in a golden age for birding optics, full of excellent choices that this guide may make easier. December 2013 | Birder's Guide to Gear 47

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