BIRD WATCH: Christmas shopping is for the birds

THERE ARE SO many great gifts for birdwatchers that it almost doesn’t seem necessary to come up with suggestions for Christmas shopping.

That’s also true for golfers, fishermen, hikers, bikers and gardeners.

However, you do need to know what the person you are shopping for may want or need. That’s a challenge if you aren’t familiar with these activities, but choosing gifts for birdwatchers can be fun.

If you aren’t into birding, but have someone on your list who is, the first thing to consider is their level of expertise or experience. Are they new into bird watching or have they been hard at it for years?

Do they have a casual interest in this activity or have they gone over the top and live to bird? If you have a hardcore birder on your list, shop wisely. They aren’t impossible to shop for — just difficult.

They already have most of what they want. If you are faced with this challenge, don’t stress. Give them a gift certificate.

Feeders, bird houses and bird books make good gifts for almost any birder. However, I know world-class birders who live to bird, but would never think to fill up a feeder or put up a bird house. They enjoy seeing as many different species of birds as they possibly can. They just aren’t interested in an intimate relationship with them.

The easiest birder to shop for is the enthusiastic beginner who has fallen in love with the sport. They are probably getting along with a pair of hand-me-down binoculars. I started with my father-in-law’s old pair.

This person is interested in a new pair of binos, a spotting scope and several of the many bird books on the market. Your budget is a limiting factor when shopping for them. Again, you may want to consider a gift certificate.

When it comes to choosing binoculars or spotting scopes, the person who is going to use them should be the one to pick them out. They need to look through the optics and feel comfortable with them. Sporting goods stores usually have a good selection to choose from.

A gift certificate to one of the book stores gives the pleasure of shopping for the book as well as the book itself. Not only are there numerous field guides available today, but more and more books are coming out that focus on one species of birds or a family of birds. They make great additions to a birdwatcher’s library, but most of the time only the birder knows which book they want.

When it comes to buying a gift that focuses on a person’s interest in birds, you have an excellent chance of finding just what you are looking for in a local “bird store.” Most of us don’t have to go far to find one of these interesting shops.

They not only carry a grand array of bird-related items, but they are fun to visit.

They carry items within a wide price range and can usually tell you what is currently popular with the birdwatching crowd.

Finally, if you have a birdwatcher you have already gifted with a bird feeder, remember that something to fill it with is always welcome. Even bird seed or suet blocks wrapped with a big red bow make a great gift under the tree.

Most important, remember that shopping for something that focuses on birds can be fun.

Enjoy yourself and remember — it is the thought that counts.

________

Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: [email protected]

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