According to Audubon, birding is the most popular sport in America! In fact, current statistics by fish and wildlife have the number of US birders (bird watchers) at over 50 million.

At The World's Best Binoculars, we've compiled a list of the very best binos for birders of every level, and every budget.

If you are new to birding, you'll be pleased to know that the binos made today are all able to give you an excellent closeup view even in the low price range. That's because today's lense production has advanced tremendously over previous years. Using sophisticated polarizing filters, porro prisms and lenses that are precision crafted, image quality for beginner binoculars are pretty darn good!

If professional quality binos are on your shopping list, look no further than Swarovski for outstanding quality, Nikon or Zeiss binoculars. Images are super crisp and highly rated by birders in the know.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN BIRDING BINOS


WEATHERPROOFING

Let's face it, to get to some of the best places for birding, you may have to deal with trees, branches, rain, snow, sand and dirt. Hey...it's wild, and this is where a pair of weatherproofed binoculars will make a difference in the life of your binos. Look for brands that offer rubberized coverings. This will help with the never-ending bumps, falls and possible nicks that binos will encounter during their use. The durability factor is especially important for birding enthusiasts who also participate in hiking, explorations and safari trips.

MAGNIFICATION

You would think that magnification is the all important factor when shopping for binoculars, but this is not necessarily so. Something to remember, is that the higher the magnification, the less focus control you have - especially in hand-held binos. And especially in the fast moving world of bird watching.

For hand helds, I would recommend magnifications of no more than 8x. Any higher and you'll need a hand steadier than a vise grip to keep your narrow field of view from making you dizzy while you try and find the bird you were sure you just saw a second ago.

Speaking of a steady hand, if you do decide on a higher magnification, then think seriously about getting a binocular tripod - it's a blessing!

WEIGHT

The more compact a pair of binoculars are. the lighter in weight they will be. If you have a problem with arthritic hands, this may be the best solution. One model I recommend is the Zeiss Victory Compact.

This little 8 x20 wonder weighs in at under 8 oz. and has Zeiss quality optics for crisp images as well as easy portability and handling.

Remember, that as you get into the higher lens diameters (that's the number after the multiplication symbol ( _x50 ), the lenses get heavier and so does the body. Some binoculars can weigh in at over 3 lbs. These big boys will give you fabulous resolution but they can be a chore to hold up, let alone carry around your your neck. All things to consider when buying.

Speaking of heavyweights, one of the finest binos you can buy is the Swarovski Optik EL binoculars. Yes...a tad heavy, but such wonderful optics, clarity and eye relief.

If Swarovski binoculars are of interest, you'll appreciate their bino suspensers, which re-distribute the weight of the binoculars over the entire upper body. Check here for other binocular harness sizes and makes.

FOCUS CONTROLS

One thing that you want to be able to do quickly is focus. Because things can happen quickly in the world of birdwatching, the controls you have should be easy to handle.

You'll have a choice between manual controls and touch sensitive controls. In a manual controlled focus. there are usually two settings or adjustment wheels. One quickly gets you to your target while the other is for fine-tuning to get the sharpest image.

In a touch sensitive situation, the faster you turn the wheel the quicker you the big picture, whereas the slower you turn, the finer the adjustment becomes letting you in on the details.

IMAGE QUALITY

Image quality in binoculars is relative not only to price, but to lens size, the prism that is incorporated, lens manufacturing, alignment and internal mechanisms used.

Speaking of prisms, the preferred roof prism is one that birdwatchers tend to go for as they are the more compact choice over porro prisms. roof prisms tend to be more durable and do not go out of alignment as often as the porro prisms.

If the world of birdwatching, safari expeditions or general nature exploration is something you are very keen on, invest in a solid pair of binos . They will give you a richer experience with the least amount of mechanical aggravation.

If you just want to test the waters, a starter pair of binoculars can do the job.

To find out where you can do some bird watching in your local area, use this link to search by zip - and enjoy the wonderful world of birding!