It’s time to find the perfect gift for a nature lover, by Chris Bosak | Chris Bosak
Christmas is just around the corner, and if you’re like me, you’ve got some last minute shopping to do.
Every year I tell myself that next year I will do my shopping before December. Never happens. I didn’t even start in December. My mom used to have finished holiday shopping in August. For me, I’m glad the stores are open on Christmas Eve.
If you still have names on your scratch list, and they’re bird watchers, or at least interested in nature conservation, this column is for you. If you’ve been done shopping and it’s been a while, well, no one likes to show off. Take advantage of the column anyway.
I always like to start by suggesting membership in a nature organization as a holiday gift. Everyone benefits. The organization obtains much needed funds and the donor and recipient feel they are doing good and helping nature and the environment. Granted, it’s not the most exciting gift to open, but the rewards and joy of doing good will eventually outweigh any feelings of dissatisfaction.
I will not name specific organizations as there are hundreds of them and I would certainly omit some that are worth mentioning. There are a multitude of international, national, regional, state and local organizations for nature or conservation. For me, I like supporting local organizations, like a land trust or a municipal nature center, but any nonprofit dedicated to nature conservation is a good one to support.
If you are not sure what groups exist in your area, a search on the Internet will yield many results. Just make sure you have the right condition to match your city. When I lived in Norwalk, Connecticut, Internet searches often showed results for Norwalk, Ohio, or Norwalk, California.
If you think the people on your list would appreciate a material gift more, here are a few more suggestions.
Optics are always great, but they can be expensive, and bird watchers generally like to choose their own binoculars or spotting scopes. For novice bird watchers, or even for someone you think may be interested in the hobby, an inexpensive pair of binoculars make a great gift. Like most things, the more you spend the better the quality, but a decent pair of binoculars – great for bird watchers – can be purchased for $ 20. A $ 50 pair would be much better, however. A $ 100 pair would be much better than that. (You can keep playing this game with thousands of dollars.) I keep a cheap pair in the truck so these cheap binoculars will have some use beyond being someone’s primary pair.
Good spotting scopes have lots of digits to the left of the decimal point, so unless you really love that person and know exactly what they want, it may be best to avoid this as a gift.
Bird feeders are always a thoughtful gift, as are birdhouses. (Has anyone else noticed the new ad where an older woman gets a bird feeder for a seemingly lonely young lady and the two befriend? Anyway, great publicity .) Feeders bring birds together and houses provide shelter in all seasons. Birdhouses, of course, can be decorative and also serve as an interior decoration.
Speaking of interior design, animal art and photographs are a great option. This includes duck decoys, which is most definitely an art. Prices vary widely within the wildlife and decoy category, from less than $ 100 to several thousand dollars. I have a modest collection of decoys with almost all of the parts originally costing less than $ 100. Most of them are practically worthless now due to my upbringing of two boys.
If possible, get your gifts from a local business. Remember, many franchise stores, such as Wild Birds Unlimited, are owned by local people who would love your business.
Field guides or other bird books are also fun to open. There are hundreds of field guides and several thousand books on birds, old and new. There are still a few printed bird watching magazines and a subscription would be a great gift to give all year round.
Most field guides these days are electronic for smartphones. These field guides, of course, do what the printed field guides could never do. They include audio of birdsongs and calls, videos, and interactive features like reporting your sightings and sharing with others. It’s a great gift if you can figure out how to give something like this.
There are many options, but time is running out. Happy Holidays to all.