Gifts for Bird Lovers

birdwatcher socksThanksgiving is past and we’re fully into the frenetic holiday shopping season. Birding websites and magazines will be running lists of gift ideas for birders—new binoculars, field guides and apps, birding accessories, etc. As a birder myself, I would certainly love to receive one of these items, but most of them are pretty expensive.

I’ve created a (very short) list of bird-related gifts which won’t break your wallet (they’re all under $25), ranging from silly stocking stuffers to practical clothing. These are just the beginning, a source of inspiration, as there are hundreds of bird-related gifts just waiting to be discovered.

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Gifts to Avoid for Bird Lovers

Wondering what to get that birder on your list? There are plenty of websites that offer the best gifts for bird lovers. But how do you know to avoid those gifts that won’t deliver as expected? Here are my suggestions on what not to buy, and why:

Felt-birdhousesFelt birdhouse. These are adorable but they have some serious shortcomings if you intend to actually offer them as nest boxes. For one, felt may be “naturally waterproof” but the blurb goes on to mention that you can air dry them if they become soaked. A soaked house is not healthy for baby birds.

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Birdy Gift Ideas

kingfisherI admit to feeling a bit smug. My Christmas shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped and delivered, and I can relax with a cup of tea and simply enjoy the season. However, I realize a lot of people are still wracking their brains for the perfect present for someone. I can’t help you with Aunt Milley who has everything, but I do have some ideas for any birders on your list. Happily, birders are easy to shop for. Pretty much anything bird-related is bound to be a hit.

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Birding Books for Kids

Any birder with a child in their life is eager to pass along their love of birds and nature in general. Pete and I have been blessed with a granddaughter, and even though she’s only seven months old, I’m already on the lookout for ways to share my interests.

At this tender age, she isn’t quite ready for her own binos—she’d probably try to eat them. Plus, she lives halfway across the country, so I can’t take her outside with me nearly as much as I’d like. Still, you can bet that most of the gifts from grandma this Christmas will have something to do with nature.

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What to Give Your Chickens

chicken_blkforestco_20100411_lah_2118You have gifts for your parents and gifts for your kids. You have a gift for Aunt Claire and a gift for Uncle Bob. You even have a gift for your dog. But what about your chickens?

If you culled your flock last month, perhaps your remaining hens are glad just to have another year of dust baths and fresh air. But don’t stop there… hens are actually very easy to “shop” for.

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What Birds Want for Christmas

Dark-eyed Junco_LaVetaCO_20100320_LAH_0126Santa is making his list—what do birds want for Christmas? There are all sorts of recipes and projects that are meant for wild birds, but so often they’re actually meant to keep us birdwatchers entertained. No one asked the birds for their opinion.

If you really want to please the birds, how about…

A special treat to eat
One year I received a pine cone, cleverly rolled in suet and peanut butter, then in millet. The greasy mixture held (most of) the seed in place. It was adorned with a ribbon for hanging outside as a treat for the birds.

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What to Give a Gardener

tool-bucket-carnegielib-16apr07-lah-982Last time I wrote about what to give a birder for Christmas (or any time, for that matter). This time I’m focusing on gifts that will delight the gardener on your list.

Again, I’m not going to pick out the latest in gardening accouterments. Unlike birdwatching, gardening does require a pile of tools, seeds, gloves, compost, and the like, but there are already long lists of “perfect gardening gifts” in magazines and on websites.  Instead of finding places for you to spend your money, I’m suggesting ways you can give the gift of time.

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What to Give a Birder

dscf0371This is not another list of what to buy your favorite birder for Christmas. There are plenty of lists like that already; every birding magazine and website seems to have one. Most suggestions seem more helpful to the makers of the products featured than they are to the gift giver… or the recipient.

See, the problem is that birding doesn’t really require a lot of stuff. Sure, you spend your wad on good optics, and you need a field guide or two. But one of benefits of birdwatching is that you don’t need a lot of gear. Once you’re set, you can get on about the business of watching birds, which is really the point. Birders do not collect birds—they collect sightings of birds.

Not to miss an opportunity, many manufacturers have come up with “birding accessories”—things like special tote bags for your book and binos, many-pocketed vests, volumes on where to go birding, and journals with bird drawings on the cover. I’m sure all those are useful, but they’re certainly not regarded as must-haves. An old fanny pack, internet access, and a 99¢ notepad work just as well.

Instead of telling you what to buy for your gift list birder, I’m going to make a suggestion for a gift you can’t buy. No one ever said that gifts have to cost a lot of money.

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