Guest Author - Kimberly Weiss
Now that Black Friday is almost among us, it is time to answer that annual question: what are some good gifts for birders in 2010?
I have not bought or been sent any of these items as gifts, so I donít know if they are a good value or not. But the web is filled with ads for birdalicious gifts to give to your friends (or keep for yourself).
The most obvious gift choice would be binoculars. However, these could be tricky to buy, as the quality can vary greatly. Although I am a cheap bird watcher (or as famous bird writer Pete Dunne would call a ďlow rent birder,Ē) I still cannot use the very bottom-rung of binoculars, those that sell in chain drugstores for only $10 (although my mother, a tagalong birder, doesnít mind them.) A wealthy or extremely dedicated birder may insist on Zeiss binoculars costing as much as your last carís down payment (and possibly as much as your last car, if you bought a preowned clunker.) So I do not recommend buying binoculars for your birding friend unless youíre really 100% sure what kind he or she would like. Binocular accessories are always a safe bet, though. A binocular harness costs only $22 and prevents neck strain. A lens cleaning pen is only $9 and cleans those small areas of binoculars and spotting that are hard to get to. Both of these are available from birdwatching.com.
One cool item a birder would love is an Audubon BirdCam. Put this camera in front of a feeder or popular bird spot, and you can see what birds you missed when you were at work or buying more holiday gifts at the store. The camera senses the motion of birds, then takes their picture, either as a still photo or video. You can see the pictures later. This camera costs $149.95, but there are additional mounting accessories, warranties and of course, batteries to be purchased. The site linked below, Brookstone, provides gives free shipping and handling.
Another interesting item from Brookstone: an edible birdhouse. Donít you feel sorry for the birds who fly into a birdhouse but canít actually eat the wood itís made out of? Now that dilemma has been solved. The edible bird house is covered with the birdsí favorite seeds, like millet and sunflower seeds. You could buy one of these and put the bird cam next to it, and take pictures of all the birds who come to nibble on their home. The edible birdhouse is not cheap though. It sells for $50.
If you are still in doubt of what a birding friend or family member would like, there are always birding t-shirts. I admit; I have never actually seen a birding t-shirt in a store, but they are out there and available from www.magnificientfrigatebird.com. There are designs for traveling birders, birders with certain amounts of sightings, birders who twitch, pish and believe in the existence of the (supposedly extinct) ivory billed woodpecker. There are also bumper stickers, hats and stationery as well.
Well, itís been fun writing my column, but itís time for me to go. I gotta go shopping!