Monocular vs Binocular for Birding: Which Should I Use?

When adventuring outdoors, there is always a lot of interesting things to observe. Getting a quality pair of binoculars or monocular will always enhance your wildlife or bird watching. Birds and other wildlife will not let you too close for a better view. Technology has made it easier for us to see a little further. You can observe birds at 200 yards as if they were 25 yards close.

Every bird watcher enjoys the ability to get those subtle details. There is always the debate of the best between a monocular and binocular. Both monocular and binoculars are compact in size and easy to carry around.

So, which is the best for birding?

Monocular vs Binocular: Which Should I use for Birding?

A Binoculars usually have two lenses hence as the name suggests. They utilize both eyes looking through a dual set of lenses. You probably know more about binoculars since they are widely used and easy to find at affordable prices.

A monocular on the other hand is a single lens device with a small, lightweight and compact design. Monocular support long-distance viewing due to the single lens. They are a popular device for most modern military forces.

Field of view

This is one area that brings the biggest difference between monocular and binocular. Binoculars offer a wide field of view since they feature two lenses. This makes them a perfect choice for birding. A monocular will not give you the same view as a binocular.

You’re better off with a binocular for bird viewing as opposed to a monocular when the field of view if what you need.


Which of these two devices offers excellent comfort when viewing bird? Binoculars tend to be a little heavy than monocular hence a little hard on your body. However, when it comes to the actual birding experience, binoculars are quite comfortable to use. Did you know it is easier looking with both eyes open than with one eye?

You’re in a more natural and comfortable state viewing through both eyes as opposed to one. For monocular, you have to shut one eye and look with the other eye which can be a little uncomfortable. Both devices come with straps for easy carrying around the neck or wrist. There are generally minor differences when it comes to carrying these devices around.

Ease of use

Well, there is no clear win under this category. This is because both devices use the same technology. However, it is worth noting that binoculars require the focus of two eyes. This might take time as opposed to viewing with a single eye via a monocular.

Both devices come fully assembled for immediate use. You only need to attach the strap for easy carrying. Monocular has a single lens hence easier to maintain as opposed to two lenses. However, there is very little difference when it comes to ease of use. They are both easy to use, maintain and carry around.

Advantages of Using Binoculars for Birding

Generally, binoculars are much more comfortable over long periods. You have reduced eye fatigue as both eyes stay open for most periods. Bird watchers can easily avoid headaches when birding for the entire day. Binoculars are also manufactured by various companies. This means there are varieties of options on the market for you. Here are more pros of using binoculars:

  • Available in various designs
  • Cost-effective
  • You get a three-dimensional view
  • Available in various aperture and power
  • They offer a wide viewing angle
  • Easy tracking of moving targets
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Can help with range finding
  • Independent focus

Cons of Binoculars in Birding

  • Not as discreet as monocular
  • Creates stigma of spying when carried in public
  • A little heavy and bulky compared to monocular

Advantages of Using Monocular

Monocular is also compact, lightweight and easy to use. A monocular of the same magnification as the binocular can be half the weight of the binocular. They are also cheaper and easy to carry in public. Here are the main advantages of monocular:

  • Fast to use since you’re focusing using one lens
  • Easy to hideaway
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Best for targeted viewing
  • Cheaper than binoculars
  • Caters for persons with impaired eyesight
  • Readily available for instant use
  • Excellent zoom power
  • Built-in compass and range finding

Cons of Monocular

  • Not good for tracking moving targets
  • Narrow viewing angle
  • Not comfortable for extended periods of use

The Winner

A binocular worth the money turn out to be the best for birding for obvious reasons. They are pretty easy to use and can support extended periods of birding without fatigue. The fact that you get a wide field of view and view with both eyes makes them a great choice.  With a quality binocular, you can track moving birds and observe them land or take off with ease. You have a wide view and will rarely lose birds in the air. The same cannot be said of monocular.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, these devices are great but binoculars are the best for birding. There is a place for each optic and one must choose what works for them. Before you decide to choose one between these 2 devices, there are plenty of reliable sources such an that will help you easier when picking the right products for your needs.