It can be hard to know what to get a birder for Christmas. Most birders have the basics of what they need; binoculars and a field guide (although one can never really have enough field guides). In addition, hardcore birding is more of a “way of life” than a simple hobby, so birders are notoriously hard top shop for. So, hopefully this post can point you in the right direction!
If you plan to get a birder a more expensive item (optics or camera equipment), you might want to think about getting them a gift card from either Adorama or B&H Photo so they can order exactly what they want. My favorite dealer in affordable optics is Eagle Optics, and you can buy gift certficates in increments of $25 on their website at this link. Keep in mind optics and camera equipment are a nice “early” presents to give to birders, especially with so many rarities and winter finches floating around this season! It may just drive a birder nuts knowing that new equipment is hiding somewhere in a closet while winter finches invade the state.
Most birders already have their ideal bird feeder set-up in their yard. If not, you can find affordable quality bird feeders at Perky-Pet. Make sure your yard is stocked and ready for Pine Siskins with thistle feeders, in addition to platform feeders for Evening Grosbeaks! Here are a few of my favorite bird feeders currently available at Perky-Pet! Keep in mind shipping is free for puchases over $50!
Try the Garden Song Select-A-Bird Tube Feeder for mixed seed or nyjer seed.
The Perky Pet 10″ Metal Finch Feeder is a must for keeping Pine Siskins happy.
Try the Birdscapes Hummingbird Oasis Feeder for drawing in winter hummingbirds.
The Birdscapes Window Feeder is a good seed feeder to use in the winter when colder temperatures might keep you indoors. Children really seem to enjoy the close looks provided by this feeder. (This is also a nice gift for your cat…let it enjoy a happy INDOORS and INDOORS ONLY lifestyle while daydreaming about birds at a safe distance!)
Blain’s Farm and Fleet also has a few nice feeders on sale at the moment, including these two platform feeders to add to your yard to keep the Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks (and birders) entertained this winter. Try the Stokes Plastic Platform Feeder or Kaytee Cedar Birdbath and Feeder.
This one will have to be put away for a few months, but I like the idea of a bright orange feeder to draw in Baltimore Orioles, Western Tanagers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks, with lots of room for jelly and oranges: Green Solutions Recycled Oriole Feeder.
Also available from Blain’s Farm and Fleet is the “No no” Bird Feeder Snowman, a cute way to dispense black oil sunflower seeds. This would be a great holiday addition to any birder’s yard (mine is on the way). This is the lowest price I have found for this feeder, which is popular on many websites.
Chances are you know a birder who has contributed data to the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas. This book combines two things I love, birds and maps, in a giant useful book. This book is currently available from Penn State Press, and it is literally hot off the press! Keep in mind the book weighs about 6 pounds, so the money spent is well worth it, as this book is the result of years and years worth of data collection and analysis. Purchase the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania here.
This time of year, birders are spending a lot of time outside, waiting in backyards for winter hummingbirds, hawk watching on cold ridges, or counting waterfowl at the chilly edge of a reservoir. This year we have the added pleasure of searching our high elevation state forests for crossbills and other winter finches. It is hard to keep frozen fingers warm when dealing with a scope or a camera, so it is always pleasant to have hand warmers stuck into your pockets for extra warmth! You can buy 10 pairs for $6.99 at REI with free shipping through Nov. 26 (this deal at REI is the best I have found, so I would stock up!).
Also be sure to check out Buteo Books for a wide selection of bird books; any choice on this website would make a birder happy!
Birding Apps are becoming more and more popular with birders using smart phones while birding, so a great gift would be an iTunes gift certificate. Some popular birding apps are Bird Codes (by Nemesis Bird), the Sibley eGuide to Birds App, and the BirdLog App. Buy a customized iTunes gift certificate here.
Another great stocking-stuffer is a box of Zeiss lens wipes. These pre-moistened wipes are great in the field for clearing optics of rain spots or dust. I recently found these available at a Walmart (I got 40 wipes for about $5). They are a little hard to find online for a low price, but I did find this box of 200 wipes at Amazon.com for about $14.
While birding, birders often find themselves in interesting situations involving their vehicles. It is easy to get stuck on the mud or sand,or to park a little too far off a road, leaving you in an unseen ditch. While I have never run out of gas while birding, I can remember a number of times when I was holding my breath while searching for the nearest gas station. This is why a AAA membership might be a good idea for the roaming bird chaser in your life! In this case, a small investment can go a long way for roadside assistance. Basic annual membership starts around $50, and if you use the promo code “1231,” you can get 20% off the membership price. Purchase a membership for someone by visiting this link or by calling 1-800-AAA-1469. Just make sure your birder isn’t already a member.
If the birder in your life already owns any and all birding gear possible, you might want to consider making a donation to a non profit organization in their name. This season, Nemesis Bird is suggesting birders support Idaho Bird Observatory by helping them raise money for their upcoming Long-billed Curlew tracking project. In the spring of 2013, Idaho Bird Observatory will deploy Satellite Transmitter backpacks on a few lucky Long-billed Curlews. These GPS trackers will allow IBO biologist to track Long-billed Curlews that breed in Idaho as they migrate to their wintering grounds! IBO supporters can visit the RocketHub Long-billed Curlew donation page. Through this site, IBO can offer REWARDS in exchange for your contributions! $10 gets you inside access to the tracking data as it is received, so you can follow the curlews step by step as they migrate! And the rewards only get better from there, including photo prints, T-shirts, exclusive field trips, and adoption certificates. (Thanks to IBO biologist Heidi Ware for this information about the fundraising process!) The email tracking updates associated with a $10 donation are a MUST for every birder, as I am sure these birds will do amazing things.
If you still haven’t found what you are looking for, head over to the Nemesis Bird store, and search our selection of BIRD BOOKS or BIRD MERCHANDISE. (Check out our banding code bumper stickers, and our Nemesis Bird T-shirts!)
For additional gift suggestions for birders (Including the first big birding movie, The Big Year, now out on DVD!), head over to Birding Is Fun! for their recent post, Holiday Shopping Recommendations from BiF!