Using Your Binoculars
If you’ve never used binoculars before they can take some getting used to so before you go out on your first bird watching adventure do some practice beforehand focusing on objects.
You will first need to adjust the focus on your binoculars. A good pair of binoculars will have a central focus wheel and a diopter focus adjustment which is used to compensate for the differences between your eyes. Adjusting both the central focus and the diopter focus means you will get the clearest possible image from your binoculars.
Begin by adjusting the distance between the two barrels of the binoculars so they are the right distance apart for your eyes.
If they are too far apart or too close together you will see black edges in your field of view. If you have the spacing just right your view should be a perfect circle.
Next, find something to focus on such as a tree, street sign or part of a building. Turn the central focus wheel and keep both eyes open to get a rough focus.
Now you need to fine focus. Close your right eye and adjust the focus wheel. Now close your left eye and using the dipoter adjustment bring your view into sharp focus.
When you open both eyes the focus should be crystal clear. If it’s not repeat these steps making small adjustments until the focus is perfect.
When the focus is correct the view through your binoculars should appear to be three-dimensional and your eyes should not have to work hard.
If you feel any strain in your eyes or you get a headache using your optics your binoculars could be out of alignment. Most binocular suppliers will be able to adjust them for you.
Finding The Bird
One of the many problems novice bird watchers have is getting their binoculars pointed right at the bird – even when the bird is sitting still. Spend a bit of time practising focusing on objects before you go off bird watching so you don’t have difficulty when you are out in the field.
First of all pick an object to view and stand square on to it. Turn your whole body, including your feet, to face it.
Raise your head and look straight at the object – make sure your whole head is tilting up and not just your eyes.
Now without moving your head raise your binoculars and put them squarely in front of your eyes. You will find that you are looking directly at the object.
Practise this technique of locking your eyes and bringing your binoculars into alignment and after a while you should find yourself doing it automatically. You will find it a lot easier to find birds using your binoculars even if the bird is moving.