Spotting Scopes for Birding

Spotting scopes allow you to focus on the details of nature at long distances.

Objective lens size

The last number (20–60 x 80) refers to the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. Spotting scopes are available in:

  • Compact (50mm) and lightweight sizes for hikers.
  • Mid-size (60–66mm), versatile models that meet a variety of needs.
  • Full-size (80–88mm) designs for maximum light-gathering.

If you bird in low light conditions such as early morning and late evening, light gathering is essential. The larger the size of the objective lens, the more light is gathered and the brighter your image will be.


If you're birding at long distances, high magnifications may be necessary to capture details. The first numbers (20–60 x 80 or 30 x 80) refer to the magnification, or how many times larger an object will appear.

  • Zoom magnification eyepieces are popular because of their versatility.
  • Fixed magnification eyepieces are appreciated for their wide fields of view.

Spotting scope bodies are often packaged with an eyepiece. Some manufacturers sell eyepieces separately.

Spotting scope durability and design

Use a waterproof and fogproof spotting scope for protection in any season. Waterproof scopes are sealed to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the optics. Fogproof scopes are filled with nitrogen or argon gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.

Spotting scope bodies come in either angled or straight designs. Angled scope bodies make it easy to bird with people of different heights and can be positioned lower on a tripod for added stability. Straight scope bodies are comfortable to use and especially beneficial when viewing at downward angles.

ArrowView STAFF PICKS for our birding spotting scope recommendations.

Our Eagle Optics professionals are available to answer your questions at 1-800-289-1132 or info@eagleoptics.com.

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