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Last updated: February 22, 2021
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Do you love birds and enjoy watching them in their natural surroundings? In that case, a monocular is an amazing device that you have to try. It is a fantastic compact optimal product that allows you to maximize the experience of watching your favorite birds.
In this article, we want to help you choose the best monocular for bird watching. We reviewed 46 top-rated products on the market and picked the Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular as our favorite. It is for a good reason because it boasts a large objective diameter and provides admirable magnification. This model is also very durable and offers excellent water and fog resistance. We also gathered five other popular products to ensure you can find a monocular that meets your expectations.
Our count says that we spent more than 60 hours finding and analyzing products to find the best items on the market. We made sure to assess all the important features and point out the advantages and drawbacks of every monocular. Our focus was on the objective diameter and magnification, which affect image clarity, as well as the field of view for maximum comfort while watching birds. Finally, we considered size and weight for the convenience of carrying the device around, especially when you are out for hours. You can find detailed reviews of top-rated items below. Before you read them, don’t forget to check our comparison table for a quick product overview. We also prepared a comprehensive buying guide that will help you pick a suitable monocular for you.
"With this professional monocular for bird watching, you get impressive image quality thanks to multi-coated optics, which is also fog and water-resistant. It has a compact design and is easy to carry."
Gosky designed a product that looks great and is very easy to use. It has a comfortable grip, which minimizes the odds of dropping the monocular by accident. The magnification capability is 12x, which will allow you to watch a bird from a great distance.
The monocular is water-resistant, dust, and fog proof. That makes it easier to use it even during severe weather conditions. The device is quite sturdy, and it should withstand impacts even if you do drop it. The materials are very durable, and the rubber-armored body only adds to that.
The objective diameter is 55 mm, ad the field of view is 325 feet at 1,000 yards. The lens features a light-gathering function to ensure a bright and clear image. Although the unit is great for watching, it might be tricky to get a good shot unless you keep your hands very steady or get a tripod. Apart from that, the product is easy to use and friendly for newbies. You will even get a phone attachment, which is a bit tricky to install the first time.
What we liked:
Very durable construction
Excellent magnification capabilities
Simple to use and focus
Resistant to fog and dust
What could be better:
It is tricky to get a good shot without keeping your hands very steady
The good news is that Suncore designed a very reliable and affordable product. Its solid construction keeps it resistant to shock, and the overall durability is impressive. The rubber armor makes it sturdier, but also easier to use. No doubt that this product can be used as a monocular for kids for bird watching, although adults can use it, too.
The product is fairly light and easy to move around. It comes with a tripod and a phone adapter, which allows you to use it with your smartphone and also makes it a great value. The phone attachment takes some time to install, but it will be worth the effort.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room first. The fact that this monocular is suitable for outdoor use and low-light conditions is its biggest benefit. However, it is also a drawback because night vision could be better. That means you can use this device in low-lighting environments, but it’s not that great when it is completely dark.
What we liked:
Suitable for outdoor use and low-light conditions
Solid construction keeps it resistant to shock
It comes with a tripod and a phone adapter
A large objective lens with excellent magnification
What could be better:
The night vision could be better
The phone attachment takes a bit of time to install
If you are looking for a professional monocular for bird watching, Bushnell has the right device for you. The brand is famous for hunting products, and this device meets its reputation. Outdoor users tend to check water and fog resistance first, and this product exceeds all expectations in that category. The size makes this a compact monocular for bird watching, but the device’s capabilities are very impressive.
The product features fully multi-coated optics and an objective diameter of 42mm with 10x magnification. Both big and small lenses come with caps. Unfortunately, the cap from the big lens tends to swing when unattached to the base, which might be a bit inconvenient at first. However, you will mostly be impressed with clear image quality, and you probably won’t even notice that minor flaw.
Apart from impressive optics, Bushnell’s monocular is also very durable. It has outstanding shock-resistance, and it should serve you for a long time.
What we liked:
Impressive resistance to fog and water
Big lens secures clear vision for bird watching
The compact design makes it easy to carry
Fully multi-coated optics
What could be better:
The price tag is a bit high
The cap tends to swing when unattached to the base
It seems that Gosky’s portable monocular for bird watching has all the required features to be an impressive device. First, the product uses a wide lens, which is very powerful with its 12x magnification. Thanks to the BAK-4 prism and multi-coated optics, you will enjoy optimal brightness and amazing light transmission.
If you maximize the magnifying, you might notice that the image becomes shaky. Therefore, it takes to have extremely steady hands to take a photo in any environment. The good news is that rubber armor and stripes increase convenience and control.
When it comes to the longevity of the monocular, the manufacturer used high-quality components to construct it. Apart from that, the optics are sealed to resist dust, debris, and moisture. Combined with the shockproof and waterproof design, it should be enough to ensure the monocular can last for years.
The company included a phone attachment that you can use with both Android smartphones and iPhones. As expected, the attachment can’t compare to telephoto lenses, but it does its job decently.
What we liked:
Impressive light transmission and image quality
A 50-mm objective wide lens is very powerful
Rubber armor and stripes make it easy to use
Sealed optics are resistant to dust, debris, and moisture
What could be better:
The phone attachment can’t compare to telephoto lenses
If you zoom in to the max, you need extremely steady hands to take a photo
If this isn’t the best monocular for bird watching, it is certainly the lightest one out there. It weighs around 0.5 pounds, and its compact size makes it easy to use with a single hand and carry around.
The device’s capabilities are rather impressive. It features a fully multi-coated lens and BAK-4 prism. Thanks to the light transmittance that reaches 99%, you will enjoy fantastic image clarity. The product is suitable for use in low-light conditions, which increases its versatility. The only drawback is that the magnification capability is only 8x, which is less than some other lenses on our list.
Despite that, the product is available at a very low price tag. The rubber finish makes it convenient to hold, and the quality of external components protects the device from severe weather conditions. You also get a holding case, but it is a bit tight, which might be inconvenient when pulling out the product. Although the unit doesn’t come with a tripod, it has a connector for it at the bottom.
What we liked:
Extremely light and fairly compact-sized
Low price tag
Image clarity is above expectations
Fully multi-coated lens and BAK-4 prism
What could be better:
The magnification capability is not as big as in some other lenses
You scheduled a weekend for bird watching, but don’t want a foggy lens to ruin all the fun. In those situations, you can rely on the Vortex Optics Solo Monocular. It is also a great choice for low-light conditions and dim lighting. The non-slip grip will ensure that you don’t drop the product accidentally.
The high waterproof rating that comes because of the nitrogen-filled components makes it highly versatile. At the same time, sealed optics protect the product from dust and debris, extending the longevity of the device. However, it is a shame that it lacks a lens cover.
The objective diameter is only 36mm, but if you are looking for a compact monocular, you will appreciate that. The adjustable eyecup means that you can use the device with and without glasses.
Although the product should come with a utility clip as the photos on Amazon show it, they are not included in the package. You will, however, receive a soft case to carry the unit around when not in use.
What we liked:
Reliable to use in the low-light conditions
The adjustable eyecup is a nice touch
Sealed optics are nitrogen-filled for better waterproof performance
The non-slip grip adds to the overall convenience
What could be better:
The clip is not included
The objective diameter is only 36mm
Things to Consider
If you are not a fan of binoculars, and you like to keep one of your hands free, acquiring a monocular can be a great alternative. These devices feature a single eye-piece and lens, which makes them suitable for single-hand use. A monocular is lighter and smaller than binoculars, but that usually doesn’t affect its performance. However, that is only true if you pick a high-quality product that meets the expectations of a bird watcher and nature lover. Our buying guide is there to help you to choose a monocular, as well as answer some of the most commonly asked questions about this product.
How to buy the best monocular for bird watching?
Purchasing a monocular is similar to buying any other product. You start by considering the features you need and then looking for a suitable unit on the market. That is why we will get familiar with the crucial factors to consider when picking a monocular. Those features include the objective diameter, field of view, magnification, light transmittance, and other factors that can affect the usability and durability of the product. Make sure to read this guide carefully to learn more about the monoculars for bird watching and their use. We tried to leave no stone unturned to explain these devices in detail.
You will notice that many features to consider in a monocular are similar to those you assess when buying binoculars or a camera. That is why you begin with an objective diameter. Now, the important thing to consider is that the diameter will basically tell you the size of the objective.
If you analyze the market, you will find that the objective diameter for a monocular is anywhere from 25mm to 70mm. The choice primarily depends on your preference. If you are looking for a compact monocular that you can carry around easily, you can go with a 36mm objective diameter, such as the one with the Vortex Optics Solo Monocular. Anything smaller than that makes it largely inconvenient to enjoy bird watching.
Most nature fans don’t mind a bigger objective because it delivers them a larger and better image. You don’t have to go with the maximum available size, and staying in a 50-55m range will do the job.
Magnification is another important asset that allows you to watch birds from afar. That can be important because some birds get scared easily, which is why it is best if you stay at a distance. That is why a monocular for bird watching comes with a magnification feature. That magnification can go anywhere from 5 to 20x or more, but there is no reason why you would need to magnify more than 8-12x. It is because the higher the magnification, the steadier your hand needs to be. For example, if you are using a 20x magnification, you won’t be able to take a photo without a tripod.
The experts recommend keeping it relatively modest with this feature. For example, the Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular comes with 12x magnification, and it does a great job in most situations. You can manage even with a smaller magnification than that, but you will need to get a bit closer to the bird in that case.
Field of view
The next thing is the field of view. You will find that this feature is described with the help of yards and feet. A monocular will usually have a field of view between 200 and 400 feet at 1,000 yards.
Experienced bird watchers recommend going with a field of view that is no less than 200ft / 1,000 yards. That is because a wide field of view is very important when watching the birds. The reason is simple – they are live creatures, which means they will move while you are watching them.
What if a bird moves on a branch or ten feet up the river, and you have to spend extra time to readjust the monocular to observe it again? Every second counts, which is why you should go with the higher parameters. The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular can be a great choice with a field of view of 340 feet at 1,000 yards.
Bird watchers are outside in various weather conditions. It might be night, or the sun rays go in your direction. That is where you need to rely on the light transmittance of your portable monocular for bird watching.
The first thing you should do is to take a look at the desired lenses and determine that they come with a coating. Go with a monocular that has fully multi-coated optics is possible. The price is a bit higher, but you will enjoy excellent image clarity. The point of these coatings is to resist glare and sunlight and ensure optimal brightness and clarity of the image. The prism also plays a role in picture quality, and you can usually choose between roof and Porro prisms.
You can also look for the adjustable eye relief if you are wearing glasses. That feature allows you to move your eye away from the lens, but still be able to experience the complete field of view and clear image. The eye relief should be around 15mm for optimal comfort.
The next things to keep in mind involve the physical characteristics of your monocular for bird watching. We will start with the dimensions of your desired product. You want to check out the item description to ensure that the size fits your expectations.
A monocular is smaller than a binocular, which makes it adequate for single-hand use.
If you have a lot of things to carry with you, think of a compact-sized monocular. On the other hand, if you want to get better performance, an extra inch or two might mean a lot for clarity of the image.
Apart from the size, remember about the weight of your monocular, too. It would be best if you can keep the unit as light as possible. You will probably spend hours outdoors, and it might be a hassle to carry a heavy monocular all that time.
The good news is that a monocular shouldn’t be heavy since most of them aren’t heavier than a pound or two. The FEEMIC Monocular Telescope High Power 8×42 weighs only 0.5 pounds, which makes it suitable for long-term use. Ultimately, size and weight go hand in hand, and they affect the overall portability and convenience of carrying the unit.
The quality of the components used will greatly affect the durability of your monocular. That is why you want to ensure that the manufacturer picked high-quality parts to construct their device. That way, you will maximize shock resistance and reduce the chance of damaging the unit if you drop it. A rubber armor offers an additional protection layer, and it also ensures that you have a comfortable grip. The manufacturers usually ensure that the body is resistant to slipping for maximum comfort when using the monocular.
Resistance to severe weather conditions also contributes to the longevity of the device. It would be best if you find a product that is dust, fog, and waterproof. Sealed optics will protect sensitive components from dust, debris, and moisture.
Please note that protection against environmental factors might have different levels, and it might not be wise to use the monocular during extremely harsh weather conditions.
The accessories are items that contribute to the convenience of using the product and increase its functionality. Although they are not essential, many consider them crucial for a monocular. These are the accessories you might come across:
Carry bag – a case where you can store the product if not using it. It is also convenient for carrying the monocular around, especially if it doesn’t come with a strap or handle.
Polishing cloth – this makes the cleaning easier. A suitable cloth for the lens can ensure the optimal image clarity.
Tripod – it is a base that helps to steady the device when watching the birds and taking photos. Some products come with a tripod included, and others only with an available connector for this accessory.
Smartphone holder – it enables to use of your smartphone with a monocular. It is a very useful accessory that increases the versatility of the device.
How much are you ready to pay for a monocular? If it is a monocular for kids for bird watching, you don’t have to splash your cash. But if you are a passionate bird watcher, investing in an expensive unit might be worth every cent.
The cost of a monocular for bird watching varies from $30 to $300 or more, and these are the main price ranges:
Cheap – an affordable monocular will cost you less than $50. For that money, you can expect a unit of decent durability and solid performance. For example, a FEEMIC Monocular Telescope will make it possible to enjoy watching birds, although you might need to get a bit closer than expected.
Mid-range – the cost of an average monocular is anywhere between $50 and $150. Here, you can expect to get a very reliable product, and Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular is a great example of that.
Expensive – if you are willing to pay more than $150, you can get an extremely durable and high-performing device, such as the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular. The important thing to note is that the price of an expensive monocular can be extremely high, which is why you should choose wisely.
Although it comes down to your preference, many would say that a monocular is a better choice for bird watching. The most obvious advantage is compact size, and the option to use it with a single hand. Monoculars are also very light, which contributes to their portability. That might come as a very useful feature once you spend hours outside. Finally, we shouldn’t forget about the accessories that you can use with a monocular. A tripod provides a base you need to take steady photos, and a smartphone holder allows you to maximize the functionality of a monocular by combining it with your phone.
A monocular reminds of a telescope, and it can help you to observe various things from a distance. That makes it suitable for a wide range of activities, but most users use the product outdoors. A monocular is perfect for nature lovers. Apart from watching birds, you can use it to zoom in on the landscape while you are hiking. It can also provide you a better view of what is happening in the distance while you are camping or spotting a target while hunting. You can also use a monocular indoors. For example, it can be great at a concert if you are far from the stage.
For some people, glasses are an essential accessory. Without them, they can’t see clearly, and that affects your bird watching experience. That is why the manufacturers found a way to allow you to use a bird watching monocular even while wearing glasses. You need to look for a feature called adjustable eye relief. It enables you to keep your eyes away from the lens while maintaining a clear image and a full field of view. The eye relief is usually set anywhere from 5mm to 30mm or more, but 15mm should do the trick in most cases. If you are wearing glasses, that becomes an essential feature when choosing a monocular.
The maintenance process of a monocular for bird watching takes a bit of time and effort, but it is important to optimize the experience. First, use a clean and dry microfiber cloth to wipe any fingerprints from your device. You can use a lens brush to remove dust on the lens. If you notice moisture, you might want to remove it with a dry microfiber cloth right away. In case it dries up and leaves a ring, use a damp cloth first, and then a dry one. Consider using a professional eyeglass or lens cleaner if the monocular gets dirty.
It is time to end up our monocular roundup article, and we will do that by reminding you of our top product choice.
The first one on our list is the Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular, which features a large objective, wide field of view, and impressive magnification. The device is also resistant to fog and severe weather conditions and features impressive durability.
The Suncore Monocular 12×50 is great for those looking for bargain deals. You will receive a tripod and a phone attachment with the product, and the performance exceeds expectations for an entry-level bird watcher. You can even use the device in low-light conditions.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular is the best monocular for bird watching if you want to take your experience to the next level. It is a professional device with impressive capabilities and extreme durability.
The final choice is up to you, and we would like to remind you that it is important to choose a monocular that meets your expectations.