Spotting Scopes For Birdwatching: A Beginner's Guide

Spotting Scopes For Birdwatching: A Beginner's Guide

When it comes to participating in birdwatching, choosing a pair of binoculars is normally the go-to option. They provide a fantastic quality of image and are suitable for close-up observations. They provide a convenient approach to achieving great results in any environment. These design features make binoculars an incredibly popular choice amongst all avid birdwatchers.

However, if you want to get the best results possible, then opting for a spotting scope is a great choice. These spotting scopes are perfect for activities such a birdwatching thanks to the detailed zoom. Whether viewing objects from afar or close range, theses scopes will deliver fantastic results. If you are brand new to the world of spotting scopes, then do not worry. Our team of experts have complied a fantastic guide to introduce you to using scopes for birdwatching.

Why Choose A Spotting Scope?

As previously mentioned, spotting scope provide you with an image with incredible detail at any range. The optics available within these scopes are incredibly powerful and perfect for wildlife observation. However, these scopes are likely most suitable for intermediate users who have experience dealing with higher power optics. Spotting scopes are here to take your spotting to the next level.  If you are new to birdwatching, then opting for a pair of binoculars is likely the best place to start. These offer a convenient and cost-effective approach to beginning your birdwatching adventures.

If you want to begin using a spotting scope, then there are some key differentiating factors. There are many spotting scopes available that are useful for astronomy. These scopes offer an extremely powerful magnification to help with this observation. This type of scope is simply too powerful for activities such as bird watching.

In comparison, spotting scopes designed for birdwatching provides a wider FOV for tracking objects. This is particularly important for any birdwatching or wildlife observation. Being able to track these objects is an essential part of using a spotting scope. This wide FOV is a result of these spotting scopes having a lower magnification power. For example, the Viking 12-36x50mm Swallow Spotting Scope is a fantastic example of a birdwatching scope.

Choosing a spotting scope for birdwatching really takes your game to the next level. The combination of powerful detailed optics pairs well with the lightweight build design. This helps to ensure that the scope is ready for your next big adventure.

Understanding Magnification Power

The magnification power essentially impacts the overall zoom that the scope offers. For a complete guide on this, I would recommend checking out our information on the best magnification. The spotting scopes provide a much higher magnification power in comparison to binoculars. This ensures that the scopes provide a far more detailed image quality. Furthermore, this magnification will impact how close or far away you need to be to view these objects.

The Viking Swallow Scope is perfect for use in all environments and conditions thanks to the adjustable magnification zoom. This powerful magnification power allows for you to find the optimal position for observing any objects. The ability to freely adjust this magnification power allows for the scope to be incredibly flexible. The 12-36x magnification allows for you to view objects at any distance. Whether this is up close or from afar, the Viking Swallow Scope will deliver consistent high-quality results.

However, it is important to note that spotting scopes can be more difficult to hold still in comparison to binoculars. This is due to the scope offering a higher magnification power. As a result of this, any sudden movements when using the spotting scope can disrupt the image. This is typically why spotting scopes are more suitable for experienced users. Opting to use a tripod is a strong recommendation when using a spotting scope. Thankfully, the Viking Swallow Spotting Scope offers a bundle that includes a tripod to help support this.

Quality of Optics

When deciding on which spotting scope to go for, it is always important to consider the overall image quality. This is what really separates between the overall quality of the scope. This image quality that the scopes offer comes from the type of glass and the build design. The different types of glass available impacts the light transmission through the scope. This ultimately defines how bright the viewable image is. When more light goes through the scope, it creates an image which is far more defined.

For example, Viking have long established themselves as a company that can deliver high-performance optics. The Viking Swallow Scope range is no exception to this rule. This scope provides high quality optics which provide fantastic light transmission through the scope for a brighter image. Furthermore, this scope utilises glass which increases the resolution and colour contrast. This ensures that there are no flaws with the image when viewing this through the scope.

Straight or Angled Scope?

Spotting scopes typically come available in either a straight or an angled build design. This really comes down to personal preference as the scopes operate in the same way. However, the angled scopes can be beneficial when using this for birdwatching thanks to the 45° angle eyepiece. This makes it much easier to adjust your positioning and is perfect for an overhead view.

In addition to this, angle scopes are typically easier to use when birdwatching in a group. This requires far less adjustments in comparison to using a straight scope. Our highest rated spotting scope (Viking Swallow) provides an angled scope for an optimal experience. However, choosing a straight or an angled scope really comes down to personal preference.

Consider Design Features

Spotting scopes arrive in a wide variety of shapes and build designs. When purchasing a scope, you want to ensure that you aware of any design features that they offer. These features are there to help make the scope easier to use and generally more user-friendly. These features will vary depending on the price that the scope is available for.

For example, the Viking Swallow Spotting Scope provides a twist-down eyepiece when looking through the scope. This twist-down design ensures that the user can find the optimal position for viewing objections. Furthermore, this adds an extra layer of comfort for the user - especially during long-term use. The twist-down eyepiece design all makes this a perfect fit for anyone that wears glasses. Those are wear glasses will be able to still get the best view whilst wearing their glasses. This is the type of design feature which may not always be present in spotting scopes.

Another point which is worth considering is how portable the spotting scope is. Choosing a scope which is lightweight and compact by design will ensure that it is easily portable. This is especially helpful for any long trips that require you to travel with the scope. In addition to this, opting for a spotting scope that offers protection from water damage is essential. If you are looking to get the most value out of your scope, then ensure that it is durable.


There are many factors to consider when deciding on which spotting scope to choose. This guide aims to cover the important points which will determine which scope is the best choice for you. With so many scopes on the market it can certainly feel overwhelming.

The Viking Swallow Scope currently ranks as our top buy thanks to the cost-effective approach to achieving high-quality results. However, there are a wide variety of different options out there. Buying the scope that you feel best suits your approach to birdwatching is vital. Ensuring that the scope provides fantastic image quality is a must. This is a core feature that you will need to consider when making your purchase.