Birding Gadgets and Gear You Never Knew You Needed

Go beyond binoculars and field guides and ramp up your game with the coolest new birding gear and gadgets.

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OK, let’s be honest… you don’t need any of these birding gadgets or cool gear to be a good birder. All you really need is a good pair of binoculars and a field guide you love (whether it be paper or digital). If you enjoy taking photos, you’ll also want a nice camera that you feel comfortable using. So, please, if you’re new to birding, start with those three, and come back here later.

But if you’re ready to step things up, or if you love playing with new gizmos, this list is for you. We’re talking night-vision monoculars so you can track down all the owls, and motion-activated trail cams so you never miss a backyard visitor. We’ve got ways to up your smartphone game to get better shots than ever before, a backpack to protect your optics, and a hoodie to protect you from bug bites. None of these birding gadgets or gear are essential – but they’re all fun and useful. They make ideal gifts for hard-to-buy-for birding dads, or splurges for yourself. So go on… take your birding to a new level!

Monocular With Smartphone Holder

Digiscoping has been the hot new thing in birding for the last few years. Put simply, it’s using your digital camera or smartphone to take photos through a spotting scope. The setups for these can be basic or elaborate, so get started with this monocular and smartphone holder by Gosky. You can use the 12 x 50 monocular on its own, or attach your phone with the holder to take photos. It’s best used with a tripod to hold it steady, but the monocular fits any standard tripod, so you can use one you already have.

Get It: Gosky Monocular and Smartphone Holder, $60

Via Amazon.com

Smartphone Telephoto Lenses

Smartphone cameras get better every year, and you might often find yourself opting to leave your larger camera at home. Not all smartphone cameras offer great zoom options, though, so a little telephoto lens kit can be a great investment. Throw it in your pocket and you’ll have it on hand when you need it. This kit even comes with a small tripod to make your shots even steadier.

Get It: 20X Telephoto Lens + Accessories, $38

Camera Backpack

Whether you carry a high-end camera with lots of accessories, or just a good quality point-and-shoot, you don’t want it rolling around in the bottom of a backpack with your banana and water bottle. But carrying a backpack and a camera case is just too much. Compromise with a backpack boasting built-in camera storage. The padded sturdy pockets are also great for holding binoculars. Additional pockets can hold your snacks, field guide, and other assorted birding paraphernalia.

Get It: Lowepro Photo Hatchback, $65

All-Weather Field Notebook

At first glance, this notebook doesn’t seem high-tech. But this isn’t just another notebook. The paper is weather-proof, so you can write on it under any conditions using just a regular pencil. The inside covers feature bird anatomy diagrams and the Code of Birding Ethics as handy reminders.

Get It: Liberty Mountain Birder’s Field Notebook, $7

Water Wiggler

Every backyard birder needs one of these in their bird bath. Birds dislike standing water, which tends to grow stagnant and can harbor disease. This solar-powered doodad keeps the water in your bird bath on the move, making it more tempting to your feathered friends. Bonus: Moving water is less likely to to encourage mosquitoes to lay eggs!

Get It: Bird Scene 8 WW Water Wiggler, $42

Via Amazon.com

Trail Camera

Ever wonder what’s visiting your backyard feeders when you’re not around? This motion-activated digital trail camera will tell you! It’s easy to set up and runs on 8 AA batteries (or you can buy an AC adapter to plug it in). It works both day and night (using infrared so it won’t scare away the wildlife), taking photos or short videos. Now you’ll always know who’s been eating up all your birdseed!

Get It: Apeman Trail Camera, $42

Night Vision Monocular

Love looking for owls? A little night vision might be just the thing. Infrared technology can cost an arm and a leg, but this little gadget is reasonably priced for beginners. It even allows you to take photos and record video. You can adjust the monocular to accommodate the amount of available light, and zoom in or out as needed.

Get It: Solomark Night Vision Monocular, $130

Insect-Proof Hoodie

Swatting away pesky mosquitoes and gnats can ruin the fun of an amazing sighting. This hoodie is pre-treated with invisible Insect Shield technology. The sleeves have thumb holes so you can pull them down to cover your hands, and the hood protects your head. The material also provides SPF protection. Available in men’s and women’s styles, in three colors.

Get It: Debug Solaer Hoodie, $70

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find he reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.