We all want to give thoughtful gifts, but sometimes coming up with ideas for what to buy can be a challenge. I’ve complied a list of all sorts of bird-related goodies to help you find just the right special something for the bird lover in your life. So if you are looking for the best gift ideas for backyard bird watchers, I’ve got you covered in this article.
Whether you are buying for a seasoned birder who is out at the hot spots at 6 am every weekend, or just a backyard enthusiast who likes to sit and watch their feeders, you’ll be sure to find something on this list to suit them. The great thing about gifts for bird watchers is that they can be purchased year round! Christmas, birthdays, mothers day, fathers day, weddings, housewarmings, etc. They are suitable for many occasions.
One of the first gifts that likely comes to mind is a bird feeder. But there are hundreds to choose from, where to start? Here are three that I think nearly anyone would be able to use and enjoy in their yard.
- A Squirrel Buster: One of the highest rated and most recommended bird feeders out there, and one I have personally used for many years. It holds a good amount of seed, is high quality and very durable, and does a great job of keeping pesky squirrels from stealing all the food. Here are some other squirrel proof bird feeder options.
- More Birds “Big Gulp” Hummingbird Feeder: Give the gift of hummingbirds! Attracting them to a yard can be easy with a good feeder. This is a classic, easy to clean hummingbird feeder with a nice large nectar capacity. If you make a batch fresh right before you give the gift, you can even include a jar of homemade hummingbird nectar (or maybe just a bag of sugar to help get them started). It’s easy to make, check out our article on making hummingbird nectar.
- Natures Hangout Large Window Feeder: Does the person you are buying for live in an apartment or have a small yard? Are they unable to put up a feeder pole or you just aren’t sure what their yard set-up may be? Try a window feeder! As long as your gift recipient has a window, they can use this feeder. Durable, easy to clean, and is a good size for attracting most backyard birds.
Another great gift for backyard bird watchers that might quickly come to mind is a bird house. There are so many styles to choose from! You can go for decorative “wow” factor, or practical long term use. I have recommendations for both options below.
A unique and decorative looking bird house can really be a statement piece. Some of the most lovely birdhouses I’ve seen are the ones made by the company Home Bazzar. I have personally been gifted two of their bird houses over the years by family that knows about my bird obsession. One of them I put outside and very quickly a wren nested in it. The second I thought was so lovely I kept it indoors as a centerpiece on my mantle. My only word of caution here is that these types of birdhouses tend to not hold up long term outside in the elements. They are great as a beautiful indoor decor piece, but will likely not last more than 3-5 years outside.
Here are three different style homes by Home Bazzar that I think would make beautiful gifts –
Wren nesting in my yard in the Home Bazzar Fieldstone Cottage House I received as a gift
If you want to gift a birdhouse with the intention of it being used outside for the long term, I highly suggest choosing something made from recycled plastic. The plastic stands up to the elements much longer than wood, and is easy to wipe down and clean between nestings. My favorite is the Duncraft Eco-Friendly Songbird House. It’s a great size for many types of nesting birds, has proper ventilation and an easy to open swing up front door. Mine is going strong after three years of hot summers and cold winters with no significant signs of wear.
Wren building a nest in my Duncraft Eco-Friendly Songbird House
A great next-step for a backyard bird watching enthusiast is to add a water feature. Birds need a good source of fresh water for drinking and bathing, therefore having a bird bath can attract more to the yard. There are many pretty colored glass options, however they are often too delicate. They either lack the weight for stability and fall over or break too easily.
Bird bath heaters are tricky, especially in very cold climates. But birds appreciate access to water more than ever when it’s cold and other sources might be frozen over. If you have a bird lover with a bath, a birdbath deicer would make a great gift idea. I have used a few in my day, they take a lot of abuse being out in the elements and never seem to last long.
The best one I have tried is the K&H Ice Eliminator. It is supposed to work to 20 below zero. I can’t speak to that personally, but it has continued to work for me into the single digits. If it’s extremely cold it won’t melt the entire bath, but it will keep a pool open in the middle and the birds will find it. It is able to be scrubbed when dirty which is a plus. I had mine for three years, which is fairly good longevity for this type of item.
Bird food may not sound like an exciting gift. However backyard bird watchers know that it can get expensive feeding hungry birds! A supply of food would be a welcome present. Here are four high quality foods that the gift receiver may not necessarily splurge on themselves, but will certainly enjoy using.
- C&S Hot Pepper Delight Suet : 12-piece case, birds love it, squirrels don’t! Seriously everyone I’ve told to try this say the birds love it more than any other suet they’ve used.
- Lyric Fine Tunes No Waste Mix: 15 lb bag of high quality seed mix, no shells means no mess under the feeder.
- Coles Blazing Hot Blend Birdseed: 20 lb bag of mixed seed spiced up to keep squirrels away.
- Bird Seed Ball Assortment: A little something different, set of 6 seed balls that don’t require a feeder. Just hang from a tree and let the birds enjoy! Festive and fun.
- A recurring delivery subscription of bird seed to chewy.com would be a great idea! Maybe sign them up for a few months of bird seed delivered to their door and save them from having to lug those big bags from the store.
For those that love to feed birds in their yard and have bird feeders, it can sometimes be a pain, or downright difficult, to lug around the large, heavy bags of birdseed for frequent refillings. These gifts will make storing seed and refilling feeders easier.
- The Stokes Select Container and Dispenser holds 5 pounds of seed. The narrow spout and handle makes it easy to pour seed into feeders with small openings. Portable and reduces spillage.
- This IRIS Airtight Rolling Food Storage Container has an airtight lid, four wheels and a clear body to easily see how much seed you have left. Comes in a variety of sizes. Great for wheeling the seed on to your deck or from your garage.
Does the person you are buying for already have a bird bath or other water feature? A “water mover” might be a perfect finishing touch. Birds are even more attracted to water that is moving. Another bonus of moving water is it is less likely to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, as they prefer to lay their eggs in still, standing water.
- This floating solar fountain is very inexpensive. No cord required. However please note this will only work in very direct sunlight, so is a fun choice but won’t run all the time.
- This bubbler style fountain that looks like a rock has a corded pump and can sit inside the bath. Water will cascade down the outside to create a natural effect.
- This Allied Industries Water Wiggler uses spinning wheels to create a ripple effect on the surface of the water. Battery powered.
House finch drinking out of my birdbath with a Water Wiggler
BINOCULARS FOR BIRDING
Binoculars make a great gift for a bird lover whether they are going out into the field or even just like to watch birds from their window. Binocular prices can range from $100 to over $2,000 and this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list by any means. I researched recommendations from the people who actually test out binoculars specifically for their bird watching abilities – the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Remember, the first number indicates how much magnification there is, and the second number indicates the size of the objective lens which determines how much light can pass through affecting brightness.
- Celestron Nature DX 8 x 42: A great low-priced starter binocular. Consistently scores high in the economy category for brightness, clarity and color rendition. I have owned a pair of these and everyone who has borrowed them has commented that they are very crisp and bright.
- Nikon Action Extreme 7 x 35 ATB: Often wins for best of the economy class with it’s wide field of view (eye comfort) and performance in low light. These are also made to be a little more rugged for outdoor use with shock absorption and waterproof, fog proof construction.
You can also check out our article on budget birding binoculars.
- Nikon 7548 Monarch 7 8 x 42: The Nikon Monarch line has been around for a long time, and they always get a very high ranking in the mid-price category. Sharp image, comfortable to hold, good eye relief for long viewing. (Tip: You can also snag earlier model Monarchs still for sale, like the Monarch 5, for about half the price of the newest model)
- Vortex Viper HD 8 x 42: Another clear winner in the mid-range category, many birders think these stand up very well against binoculars twice their price. Anti-reflective lens coating, enhanced resolution and contrast, color-accurate images.
When it comes to the high price category one company always makes the list – Zeiss.
- Zeiss Conquest HD 8 x 42: Excellent brightness and lightweight ergonomic design. Clear, true to color images.
- Zeiss Victory HT 8 x 42: At this price tag, these are one of the best of the best. Clear, crisp, near perfect images. Good ergonomics and comfortable eye relief. Birders have commented that “birds pop out from the background”
MONOCULARS FOR BIRDING
It may be true that most birders prefer binoculars, however lots of people may choose to have monoculars for a variety of reasons. They are generally less than half the weight of binoculars, and often a proportional cost savings. They are also less bulky and can save a little space in your bag. Here are two solid, affordable options that get great reviews.
- Bushnell Legend Ultra: Known for delivering excellent color, clarity and brightness at this price point. Waterproof, fog proof, twist up eyecups, carry clip
- Vortex Optics Solo 10 x 36: Non-slip grip, waterproof and fog proof, adjustable eyecup, utility clip.
SPOTTING SCOPES FOR BIRDING
The ultimate in optics for the serious birder. For viewing very distant birds, such as along a far shoreline or flying over a field, you need a lot of magnification. More magnification than a pair of portable binoculars can provide. Due to their large size and therefore larger optics, the pricing for spotting scopes starts out higher than even a mid range binocular. However a good spotting scope can be a lifetime investment in birding, and there are some more affordable options. Here are four scopes highly rated in their price categories.
- Economy: The absolute lowest priced scope I could find that birders still rated as being worthwhile was the Celestron Trailseeker 65. Fairly sharp image at the center of the view, good zoom and ease of focus.
- Low Price: Celestron Regal M2 – Provides a very solid image at this price point. Good marks for color and sharpness, easy to operate.
- Mid Range: Kowa TSN-553 – This Kowa gets great ratings for zoom, ease of focus, and having a great edge-to-edge focus. It’s body is a little more compact than similar models with might make it easier to travel with.
- High Price: Kowa TSN-883 – Extremely high marks in every category from color to sharpness and brightness. Users also report superb eye relief. Image remains sharp throughout the zoom range. Please note – most scopes at this high price range DO NOT include the eyepiece, as is the case here. That is sold separately. Recommended with this scope is the Kowa TE-11WZ eyepiece.
If you’re looking to buy someone a nice DSLR or mirrorless camera, there are plenty of websites that go in-depth on the myriad of models. But how about some fun backyard options specifically for viewing birds? Items that can provide great pictures and video would be a great gift for backyard bird watchers. Here are three unique bird-specific cameras –
Campark Trail Game Camera 14MP 1080P: A “trail cam” would be a fun way to grab photos and videos of your bird feeder, bird house or other backyard bird activity. This camera has 14 megapixel images and 1080P video as well as infrared sensors and night vision. The night vision would be fun to view activity at an owl box! A nice compact trail camera for a good price.
Birdhouse Spy Cam Hawk Eye HD Camera: For those with a birdhouse and nesting birds (or duck house, or owl house), this would be a really fun item to be able to watch the eggs being laid and hatch! Watch the progress of the baby birds as they grow and fledge.
Bird Photo Booth: A really cute motion activated wi-fi bird cam. It has a stainless steel feeder bowl attached right to the camera for close-up shots. Able to take 4K 30 Ultra HD video and 16 mp photos with wifi to your phone. If you want to see what kind of pictures people are getting with this you can check them out on Instagram at birdphotobooth
CELL PHONE ACCESSORIES
Most of us own a cell phone these days, and we carry it everywhere. Cell phones can be great tools for bird lovers from birding apps to being able to take pictures on the go. Here are a few cell phone specific accessories I think would make handy gifts for the tech savvy birder.
Cell phones have fantastic cameras nowadays, however they still lack zoom power, which is critical for taking decent pictures of birds. While you aren’t going to get National Geographic quality shots with these little lens attachments, you CAN get some really cool shots from a window, deck or other somewhat close vantage point. Great for those who love snapping a quick photo of activity going on at their bird feeder. (As always, read the listing carefully to ensure phone compatibility)
- Keiyi 15X Camera Telephoto Lens Kit Double Regulation Lens Attachment with Tripod and Universal Clip
- Godefa Cell Phone Camera Lens with Tripod+ Shutter Remote,6 in 1 18x Telephoto Zoom Lens/Wide Angle/Macro/Fisheye/Kaleidoscope/CPL, Clip-On lens
Waterproof Cell Phone Pouch
A bird lover who likes to go searching for birds outdoors may appreciate having an easy way to protect their phone from rain or being dropped in the water (perhaps while birding on the beach or from a boat). The JOTO Universal Waterproof Pouch Dry Bag is simple and effective. Keeps your cell phone dry while still allowing you to take pictures or use birding apps. I have one of these myself and wore it while swimming in the ocean and it kept my phone 100% dry and I was still able to take photos while in the water. A bonus is you can wear it around your neck and have one less item in your pockets.
Many birding related apps are free, but there are plenty that aren’t. Apps like iBird Journal, iBird Pro or other region specific bird guides can range from $5 – $20. An App Store gift card or Google Play store gift card to purchase bird apps or bird related games (Angry Birds!) would be a nice choice for the tech savvy birder.
Anything with a bird on it will likely be appreciated by a bird lover. T-shirts, socks, etc. But for people that like to get outside and do some active birdwatching, a few specific items to help them be prepared for any type of weather could prove very useful. Here are three items I think that most birders could get a lot of use out of.
2. While a birder probably won’t be heading outside in bad weather, sometimes a nice afternoon can turn into unexpected drizzle. This Charles River Pullover is a lightweight, unisex, packable jacket that comes in many colors. You can fold it down, and tuck it into itself and zip it up into a small sized square that is easy to throw in a backpack. Wind and water resistant, elastic cuffs, front pockets and hood. If you size up a little bit it’s easy to pull right over warm sweatshirts or other bulky clothes.
Most birders know the best time of day to get out is early morning. The early bird catches the worm after all. How about giving the gift of a nice travel mug so your favorite bird watcher can carry along their tea or coffee and have plenty of hours of something warm to sip on. The Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug has great reviews for being totally leak proof as well as keeping beverages warm (or cold) for hours, being dishwasher safe and easy to clean. I have used Contigo mugs in the past and they do in fact keep hot beverages hot for a surprisingly long time.
Give the gift of learning! The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Ornithology is the study of birds) is a nonprofit educational organization that is part of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The Cornell Lab is one of the most well known and respected centers for bird study, appreciation and conservation.
Purchase a Gift Certificate for one of their online birding courses. They have a wide variety of courses on identification, bird songs, bird biology, and improving your skills as a birder. Any bird lover would be sure to find something of interest. All classes are online and can be taken at your own pace. View their course list here.
Also consider a membership to the Cornell Lab for your loved one as a gift, or visit their shop!
AUDUBON SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP
Even non-birders have heard of the Audubon Society. Founded in 1905 it is the most famous and widespread nonprofit bird conservation organization in the world. Membership usually starts at only $20, and any amount you wish to pay over that is considered a donation to the society. A great gift for any birder with many perks such as their great magazine and free or reduced admission to local chapters, workshops, and birding trips.
From their website, Membership benefits include:
- A full year of Audubon magazine, our flagship publication
- Membership in your local chapter and free or reduced admission to Audubon Centers and Sanctuaries
- Birding and community events happening near you
- Timely, relevant news about birds, their habitats, and the issues that affect them
- A powerful voice in the fight to protect birds, plus advocacy opportunities
- Special offers and discounts available only to members
I really enjoy Audubon magazine, very interesting and informative articles about a wide range of subjects!
Aside from the above mentioned Audubon magazine, there are several other popular birding magazines, and a years subscription would make a great gift for backyard bird watchers. Here are a few of the most popular –
- Birds and Blooms: Specializes in backyard birding for beginners and gardening
- Birdwatchers Digest: is filled with items for birders, informational columns and travel pieces from around the world. It also has many ads for birding festivals and bird related products.
- Birdwatching: Information on attracting birds and making positive ID’s. Features really great photographs.
PLANTS THAT ATTRACT BIRDS
Backyard bird watchers would surely enjoy being able to attract more birds to their yard. A gift of plants that will attract more feathered friends to the yard would be a very thoughtful choice, especially if your gift recipient enjoys gardening or spending time outdoors.
National Geographic recommends these 10 plants to attract songbirds by providing edible seeds and nesting materials; Sunflower, Coneflower, Cornflower, Black eyed Susan, Daisy, Aster, Marigold, Virginia Creeper, Elderberry and Staghorn Sumac.
Audubon also recommends Milkweed, Cardinal flower, Trumpet honeysuckle and Buttonbush.
An alternative to buying a plant is some pre-packaged seed bundles such as this Butterfly & Hummingbird Wildflower Mix.
Whichever plants you choose it’s important to remember to select plants native to the area in which they are to be planted. This page on the Audubon website can help you find which bird friendly plants are native to your growing zone: Native Plant Database
Sneaky “between the deck railing” view of a hummingbird enjoying Honeysuckle I planted
BOOKS ABOUT BIRDING
There are endless books, both fictions and non-fiction, about birds. If you know your gift recipient doesn’t already own a field guide, that is an obvious great gift. However chances are a bird lover will already have one or more bird guides in their possession. Here are my recommendations for four books that are unique, would make nice gifts, and I believe most birders would be happy to own.
- Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species – As I stated above, most birders will already have one or more field guides for bird identification. However I bet most will not have a guide specifically for feathers. Bird feathers are unique and beautiful, and most birders are excited to come upon them when out exploring. But it can be very hard to figure out which bird the feathers came from. This book can help identify 379 species of North American birds as well as providing information about feather types and wing types. Birders should find this more in-depth understanding and learning of bird biology very interesting!
- The Sibley Birder’s Life List and Field Diary – a great birding diary to keep track of the different species seen, as well as notes about where and when the bird was spotted. Great for building your life list and recording special moments. Even birders who mainly log their sightings online will likely appreciate this lovely hand held diary and enjoy keeping track of special sightings and being able to flip through a physical journal.
- Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors for The Birds of America – if you are looking to give a beautiful coffee table book as a gift, you’d have a hard time doing better than this. Audubon’s Birds of America is arguably the most famous book about North American birds, as well as one of the earliest and best examples of wildlife illustration. This book presents photographs of Audubon’s original watercolor paintings, which were used to make the engraved plates that printed the first copies of his book. Accompanying the photographs are stories behind their creation and quotes from Audubon’s writings.
- Audubon, On The Wings Of The World – know a fan of birds AND graphic novels? This unique book is a graphic novel depicting the life of John James Audubon that focuses on his travels to discover, collect, and paint the birds of North America.
Birds striking windows can be a heartbreaking problem for many back yard birders, especially those with a lot of feeders. You can help safely alert birds to the presence of windows with specially made window decals, such as these Window Clings Bird Deterrent by WindowAlert.
Nice items for use in the home always make great gifts. Kitchenware (glasses, mugs, plates, trays, etc) are classic gift items, and there are a lot of great options out there for bird lovers. Here are two artists who have gained a lot of popularity and have some really fantastic, affordable gift options.
For 60 years, American artist Charley Harper painted colorful and highly stylized illustrations of wildlife, including many birds. You can find everything from plates to stationary with his art on Amazon, but as a nice gift I’d recommend these sets of lovely drinking glasses;
Paper Products Designs – Vicki Sawyer
For more adorable mugs, dishes, towels and tea trays I recommend the whimsical nature art of Vicki Sawyer who sells her art with the company Paperproducts Design. Search for Paperproducts Design on Amazon to find all her items. They are unique pieces and once many people receive one item as a gift, they begin to collect them. Myself included! I received a tea tray as a gift one Christmas and loved it so much I bought myself a matching mug. I have since received two other mugs and a plate as gifts! Here are a few great items to start with –
- Forest Festivitiess Appetizer Plate Set, Multicolor
- Wood Lacquer Vanity Tray “Jay’s Party, 12.25″ by 7”, Multicolor
- Party Snacks Gift-Boxed Mug, 13.5 oz, Multicolor
My small but growing collection
BIRD ID FLASHCARDS
Know someone trying to improve their bird identification skills? This Backyard Birders Flashcard set of Eastern and Western North American birds by Sibley would make a great gift and a nice change of pace from just flipping through field guides. These are fun and would go great on a coffee table.
A nice set of bird ornaments will always make a lovely gift for Christmas or even just for home decor. A personal favorite of mine are the colorful glass ornaments from the Old World Christmas company. They have a large variety of bird species to choose from, not just your standard winter Snowy Owl (although they have those too!)
This is just a short list, there are so many more. Just click through and search around. I’ve been collecting these for many years and it’s fun to get a new bird each year.
My ever expanding collection
GIFTS FOR KIDS
Here are some gift ideas for the young, budding birders in your life:
- The Sibley Backyard Bird Matching Game is a great visual learning tool to help with identification of common species.
- The Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs features recordings of twelve bird songs from some of the best-known backyard bird species seen and heard across North America. An interactive board book with pictures and sounds to help learn birds by ear. This publisher also has a few other varieties such as The Little Book of Garden Bird Songs and The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs.
- Bird Trivia Game “What Bird Am I?” – An educational trivia card game featuring over 300 cards with different levels of difficulty. This one would be fun, and maybe challenging, for the whole family!