Jan 282010

The most important piece of equipment for bird watching is a good pair of binoculars. In general, bird watchers look for binoculars that are lightweight, have a comfortable eye relief, have a close focus capability, will deliver bright images and will feel good in their hands.  Let’s examine and compare three quality and yet affordable ($200-$500) 8×42 binoculars that any bird watcher would love to take birding.  The three binoculars are the Leupold Pinnacles 54504 8×42, the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain and the Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 8×42.

Leupold Pinnacles 54504 8×42 BinocularsNikon 7430 Monarch 8x42 All-Terrain BinocularsEagle Optics Ranger SRT 8×42 Binoculars
Leupold Pinnacles 8X42 mm Binoculars 54504Nikon 7430 Monarch 8x42mm All-Terrain BinocularsEagle Optics Ranger SRT 8x42 Binoculars
Objective Aperture42 mm42 mm42 mm
Lineal Field Of View341 ft/1000yds330ft/1000yds341 ft/1000yds
Angular Field Of View (degrees)
Eye Relief17.8 mm19.6 mm19.5 mm
Exit Pupil5.25 mm5.25 mm5.25mm
Close Focus Distance6.6 ft8.2 ft5.2 ft
(2.0 m)(2.5 m)(1.6 m)
Central Focus WheelYesYesYes
Relative Brightness28.128.128.1
Fully multi-coated lensYesYesYes
Phase CorrectionYesYesYes
EyecupsVented, retractable contoured eyecups, or twist up eyecupsMulti-setting click stop eyecupsMulti-position eyecups-Twist up or down
Weight23.0 oz21.5 oz21.8 oz
(652 g)(610 g)(618 g)
Length5.5 x 4.75 in5.7 x 5.0 in5.8 x 5.1 in
(L x W)(140 x 121 mm)(146 x 129 mm)(147 x 130 mm)
(O-ring sealed)
Fog ProofYesYesYes
WarrantyLeupold Green Ring non-electronic products are warranted for as long as the original owner owns them. We warrant them to be free of defects in materials and workmanship, and to function satisfactorily under normal use conditions. If at any time a Leupold Green Ring non-electronic product is found to have a defect in materials or workmanship, Leupold will, at our discretion, repair or replace it free of charge, when requested by the original owner. Warranty is void if damage results from unauthorized repair, alteration, or misuse. Warranty is given solely to the original owner and is not transferable.Nikon is dedicated to quality, performance and total customer satisfaction. If your Nikon Binocular, Spotting Scope or Fieldscope requires service or repair not covered by our 25-Year Limited Warranty, Nikon will repair or replace it (even if it was your fault) for just $10, plus return shipping and handling.The Platinum Protection warranty offers unlimited, unconditional, transferable protection of your Eagle Optics Ranger SRT binoculars at no charge. Our Eagle Optics technicians will determine whether your binocular or scope should be repaired or replaced with a product of similar value and/ or specifications.

Check my post Easy Steps to Choosing the Right Bird Watching Binoculars for helpful ideas on selecting binoculars.

In the next post I’ll explain why I recommend the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars for bird watching.

Jan 262010

Nikon 7430 Monarch 8x42 All-Terrain Binoculars

Nikon 7430 Monarch 8x42mm All-Terrain Binoculars

In my last post I reviewed three quality and yet affordable ($200-$500) 8x42mm binoculars. I reviewed the Leupold Pinnacles 54504 8×42 binoculars, the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars and the Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 8×42 binoculars. This post will explain why I recommended the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars.

After comparing the three binoculars I found that the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrains are lightweight and I can easily carry them all day while bird watching on the trails. My hands comfortably wrapped around the body of the binoculars and they felt very good in my hands.

Even though the center focus wheel on the three binoculars is similar I give a slight edge to the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrains. I feel that it is quicker and easier to fine tune the image with the Nikon binoculars.

The precision-aligned optics of the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars is evident in the clarity of the image. You can clearly see the feather details and markings of the birds which makes identification easy.

The Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars and Eagle Optics Ranger SRT 8 x 42 mm binoculars have warranties that cover damage to the binoculars (even if it’s your fault). Let’s face it, when we are out in the elements anything can happen. The warranty on the Leupold Pinnacles 8 x 42 mm binoculars 54504 covers defects in materials and workmanship under normal use. It does not cover damage from misuse.

All three had a nice eye relief but the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars had a slight advantage over the other binoculars. I highly recommend the Nikons for eyeglass wearers.

The chief complaint of the original Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars was that the lens caps were not attached (easy to lose) and cheaply made. That problem has been addressed and is no longer an issue.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology did a review of many different binoculars. There were 27 in the mid price range ($200-500) and they said that the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars were “clearly the top-rated of any mid-priced, full-power birding binoculars. These lightweight, waterproof, and very comfortable binoculars focus down to 6 feet and offer an image and feel that surpasses many models costing two or three times more. Only in a direct comparison with the top-priced binoculars could our reviewers discern the narrower, slightly duller image, which was not quite sharp at the edges. But with a street price well under $300, the Monarchs are a steal.”

Pete Dunne wrote a review in Birder’s World in which he recommends the Nikon Monarch: “There are others in this price range that are comparable, but for some reason, after an hour of testing and comparing, this is the glass buyers walk up to the counter with.”

I recommend the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars for their overall quality and affordability. This binocular can easily compete with higher priced ones.

The NIKON 7294 Monarch III 8×42 mm Binoculars are now available. Click to read my review of the Nikon 7294 Monarch III (now Nikon Monarch 5) 8×42 Binoculars.

NIKON 7294 Monarch III 8x42 Binoculars

NIKON 7294 Monarch III 8×42 Binoculars

For more information about the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8 x 42 mm All-terrain binoculars click the link below:


Check my post Easy Steps to Choosing the Right Bird Watching Binoculars for helpful ideas on selecting binoculars.


Dec 142009

The most important piece of equipment for every bird watcher is a good pair of bird watching binoculars. Whether you are watching birds at your bird feeder or hiking along a trail, here are a few things to consider when purchasing bird watching binoculars.

The main components of bird watching binoculars are the following: the eyepieces (the end that goes up to the eye), the objective lens (the larger end of the glasses), the prisms (the glass inside the binoculars that receives the light) and the focus wheel (usually between the eyepieces).

Bird watching binoculars come with many different numbers attached to them. But, what do all these numbers (i.e. 7×35, 8×42, 10×50) mean? It’s not as complicated as it sounds. The first number (i.e. 7, 8, 10) in the group of numbers is the magnification. All that means is the objects that you are viewing through your bird watching binoculars will be 7x closer, 8x closer, or 10x closer. The choice is yours. For example, you have a pair of 8×42 bird watching binoculars and a bird is perched in a tree 80 feet away. The object will appear 8 times closer (80/8=10ft.). So, it will look like the object is only 10 ft. away from you. Picking the right magnification depends on the way that you will be using your binoculars for birding, but remember that the higher the magnification the steadier you need to hold the binoculars.

The second number attached to that group of numbers on your bird watching binoculars is the objective lens diameter. The objective lens is the far lens or larger lens on the binoculars. The objective lens diameter is the size in millimeters (i.e. 35, 42, 50) of the lens. This just simply means that a larger objective lens will let more light into the binoculars. The more light that enters the objective lens, the better the details and the brighter the image. If you are planning to use your bird watching binoculars more towards dusk or in the dark then the 50mm lens will be a better choice.

Bird watching binoculars have one of two types of prism designs. The two types are porro and roof prism systems. The porro prism system has a z-shaped optic path. What does this mean to you? Bird watching binoculars employing this system are bigger, bulkier and heavier, probably not a choice if you do alot of walking and hiking to watch birds. On the other hand, a couple of advantages of the porro prism is that they will have a wider field of view and they will cost less.

The roof prism system uses prisms that overlap closely, resulting in a slimmer and more compact shape. This makes the roof prism binoculars more lightweight. The drawback with the roof prism is that the field of view will be narrower and they are a more expensive bird watching binocular.

Another very important feature to consider when purchasing bird watching binoculars is the ease of focusing the binoculars. With birds constantly in motion, look for a pair of bird watching binoculars that has a quick and sharp focus wheel. Look for the focus mechanism on the binoculars to focus from far to close in one or less revolution. You want your binoculars to feel comfortable in your hands.

Remember, it is an individual preference and you should buy the best bird watching binoculars that you can afford.

Click The Three Models You Need To Check Out to see a review of binoculars that I recommend.


Dec 132009

Setting up a bird bath fountain is an easy way to attract birds to your yard. The seeds that your bird feeder contains will only attract certain birds. By adding a bird bath fountain to your backyard you will draw additional species of birds. You will be seeing 2 to 3 times more birds in your yard.

Water is essential to birds. They need water to drink and they also love to play in the water. Watching birds at the bird bath fountain will provide you with entertainment as you watch the birds splashing in it. A bird bath fountain, with the sound of moving water, will attract plenty of birds.

Still water bird baths can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Running water from misters, drippers or waterfalls in the bird bath fountain alleviates that problem.

A bird bath fountain can be operated by either electric or solar power. A solar powered bird bath fountain doesn’t require any additional plumbing or electrical wiring. It costs nothing to run, but does require placement in a sunny location.

Bird bath fountains are constructed out of many different materials:  mosaic tiles, concrete, stone, cement, copper, glass, marble, resin, brass or other metals.

The design of a bird bath fountain can be very elaborate and will make a statement in your garden habitat. Conversely, there are bird bath fountains made to blend into the natural landscape.

There should be a rim that is easy for birds to grip so that it can act as a perch. The bowl should have a depth of 2-3 inches.  If you have a deeper bowl, placing small pebbles in the bottom will decrease the depth. A textured surface will keep the birds from slipping.

There are a variety of different types of bird baths:  deck mount, hanging, tiered and pedestal.

  • The deck mount is simple to install and is ideal for apartment dwellers or those who don’t have a large yard. The drawback to a deck mount bird bath is that it is easy prey for cats. If there are cats in the area you may want to think twice about selecting this style.
  • The hanging bird bath can be hung from trees, overhangs or awnings. The downside to the hanging bird bath is that the birds can get it to swing and swish the water right out.  This may have you filling the bird bath more often than you would like.
  • A waterfall bird bath fountain is tiered. This style allows the birds to take a shower under the falling water.
  • A very popular and versatile choice is the pedestal bird bath fountain. This is a preferred bird bath because it can be placed in any area of your yard.

Many of the different types of bird bath fountains incorporate misters and drippers in the bird bath.  Hummingbirds and warblers love to fly through the misters.

Look for an open spot to locate your bird bath fountain. You want the birds to feel safe so make sure that cats don’t have easy access to the area.

In hot weather you should clean your bird bath fountain daily. In cooler weather it should be cleaned every few days. Remember, that a bird bath heater should be installed to keep the water from freezing in the winter. With proper maintenance your bird bath fountain will last for many years.

The perfect bird bath fountain, as recommended by birding enthusiasts, is one with moving water, functional perches, a textured surface and one that is solar powered. You will appreciate the beauty it brings to your garden bird feeder habitat. The birds will love your bird bath fountain. Just sit back and enjoy the view!

Dec 102009
Garden Bird Feeder-Our First Snowbirds in 2009Chicadee at the Garden Bird Feeder

Chicadee at the Garden Bird Feeder

We filled up the bird feeder and sat down to write the Christmas cards. Soon we were spending more time watching the birds at the garden bird feeder than writing cards! It’s always fun watching the birds after the first snowfall. Share your stories with us.