Birdwatching is an extremely popular hobby for people of all ages and genders. Although you can birdwatch with your naked eye, many people opt for monoculars to enhance their view and identify birds from a safe distance.
Choosing a monocular for bird watching can be difficult. With all the technical jargon that you may not understand unless you’re well versed in the world of telescopes, it can be hard to know what to look for. That’s why I’ve put together this guide detailing the 3 best monoculars for bird watching on the market.
I’ve also answered some commonly asked questions about monoculars. To discover more, read on!
Best Compact Option
Opticron 30440 BGA 8×42 Monocular
This monocular is the most compact, meaning that you can just pop it in your pocket or bag and take it wherever you need it. At just 9.9oz and measuring at 13.72 x 4.57 x 4.32 cm, you don’t have to worry about it taking up valuable space when heading out bird watching.
It’s available in many lens diameters, so you can choose which magnification you prefer. It’s powered by 1 AA battery, so you don’t have to worry about running out of power as you can keep a spare on you without taking up space.
This compact monocular for bird watching is waterproof up to 5m, meaning if you get caught in a typical UK rainstorm then you can still use it to see the wildlife. It also comes with a carry case and a lanyard, as well as caps for the main objective and an eyepiece to keep it safe whilst you’re out and about.
One thing I love about this waterproof monocular for bird watching is that it’s built with glasses wearers in mind! A rare find, the eyepiece has 2 modes, one for glasses wearers and one for those who don’t wear them.
Reviewers rave about the high-quality image and focus of this compact monocular, you can really get up close and personal with the wildlife, from a safe distance of course!
- Compact and light
- 8 options to choose from
- Powered by 1 AA battery
- Carry case and lanyard included
- Built with glasses wearers in mind!
- Some reviewers have commented that the focus ring is stiff initially, but this loosens with use
Best Budget Option
DFlamepower 10×42 HD Monocular
It can be hard to find a budget monocular without compromising on quality, but I think this monocular does an impressive job. This monocular for bird watching is made of rubber making it fairly durable, so you won’t have to worry about it getting broken by being loose in your bag on a hike.
There’s an anti-drop hand strap to place around your wrist when holding the monocular, with rubber armour that makes it easier to hold within your hand. It also comes with a microfibre cleaning cloth for the lens and a carrying bag. Waterproof enough to use in the rain, with dual focus capabilities suitable for glasses wearers too.
The lens is coated with a green film and Bak-4 prisms, which makes your view brighter and clearer. It also has a focus wheel that you can easily turn with one hand, which allows you to see things up to 1000 yards away.
Reviewers have commented on the excellent quality of this monocular, despite its affordable price point!
- Rubber armour
- Anti-drop hand strap
- Dual focus for glasses wearers
- Doesn’t quite compare to higher-end products
Best High-End Option
Bushnell 191142 Legend Ultra HD Monocular
The Bushnell 191143 Legend is the best high-end option on the market. It’s not the smallest or lightest option, but it’s still portable. However, with 10 x magnification power, it’s hard to complain. ED Prime glass, PC-3 Phase-Coated prisms and fully multi-coated optics ensure that you get bright and clear views that are of unrivalled quality.
Not only is this monocular waterproof, but it’s fog proof too meaning you can use it in any weather condition without your view being affected. It works well in lower light conditions, as it transmits plenty of light through the objective lens.
The eyecups are adjustable so that you can be comfortable when holding them against your eye for longer periods of time. The front lens cap is removable but is also on a hinge. This means that it can be used as a sunshield on those brighter days when the sun may affect your view.
One of the things that I love about this monocular is that you can easily attach it to a tripod with its built-in picca rail. This gives you more stability to view the wildlife if you know that you’ll be staying in one place for a length of time.
All reviewers have commented on the excellent clarity that’s even better than expected.
- Extremely impressive optics
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Adjustable eyecups
- Hinged front lens
- Easily attach to multiple accessories
- Not the lightest or smallest of monoculars
- No batteries included
Monocular vs Binoculars: Which Should I Use?
Monoculars and binoculars are both powerful magnification tools that can help you spot wildlife and beautiful birds from a long distance away.
Monoculars are much more lightweight and compact, making it easier to take them on outdoor trips with you. If you’re hiking to a sightseeing spot, you need to make sure that you save valuable backpack space for water, snacks and anything you may need in case of emergency.
This means that monoculars are much easier to take with you as they don’t take up much space and some are even small enough to keep in your pocket or attach to a belt loop! Despite their small size, monoculars can have up to a huge 10 x magnification, making them a powerful tool for bird watching.
However, with a monocular instead of binoculars, you can only use one eye. Although this may not be a problem for many, some people may prefer to get the whole picture using both eyes for a more immersive experience.
Although, I’ve found that if you’re a glasses wearer like myself where each eye is at a different prescription, I actually prefer just using one eye.
A monocular can also be more comfortable to hold than traditional binoculars, it also leaves one hand free to note down your sightings or take a sip of a hot beverage.
When it comes to birdwatching, a monocular is a more popular choice with enthusiasts. However, if you’re looking at a general view and just taking in the scenery, binoculars will offer the wider picture.
How Far Can A Monocular See?
Monoculars tend to have a magnification power between 6x and 10x, higher optical magnification will allow you to see further into the distance.
Monoculars will often have their magnification option listed within the product specification. When looking at this, you will see 2 numbers. The first number is the magnification and the second is the lens size. The bigger the lens size, the wider the view available.
For example, a specification of 8×25 will mean that the monocular has 8 x magnification with an eyepiece lens size of 25mm. This means that the object in view will appear 8 times larger than it would with your naked eye.
The distance you can see will depend on the quality of the bird-watching monocular that you choose. On average, monoculars can see around 5 miles into the distance, but for specifics check the specification of the product.
I hope that after reading this guide, you’ve found all the information you’re looking for and can begin your journey to spotting some fantastic birds!