What do you buy the wildlife enthusiast or nature lover for Christmas? It’s a conundrum faced by partners, families and friends every year.
You’d think it would be easy… anything to do with wildlife would be perfect, right? But from long years of experience I know that we wildlife enthusiasts can be notoriously difficult to buy for.
So here’s a little post to help out the “significant others” out there who are struggling to come up with last-minute wildlife Christmas gift ideas.
1. Bird food, feeders and accessories
Attracting birds into the garden is a great way to get closer to wildlife. Feeders, bird food, nest boxes and other garden bird accessories make great gifts for the wildlife enthusiast and can be a great way to foster children’s appreciation of nature from the comfort of a kitchen window.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Quercus hand turned Irish oak bird feeders: these beautiful and unique hand-turned Irish oak bird feeders are a stunning yet functional addition to any garden: a piece of garden art that also serves a practical purpose. The suet and seed mix they contain is the perfect high-energy food supplement to help your garden birds through the winter.
- Assorted bird feeders: there are all sorts of seed and peanut feeders out there in a variety of designs to suit all kinds of gardens — you can even get window mounted feeders so you can feed the birds even if you have no outside space at all. Check out the range at CJ Wildlife, your local garden centre or the Birdwatch Ireland shop.
- High energy, no mess bird seed blends: bird food may not be the most exciting gift… but if you’re buying new seed feeders for the lucky recipient, then how about something to fill them with too. These special seed mixes offer a blend of high quality seeds to provide optimum nutrition with minimal mess and waste under your feeders. You can buy different blends from CJ Wildlife the Birdwatch Ireland Shop and other retailers.
- CJ Wildlife Suet Snowman: this fun stocking filler from CJ Wildlife is a great festive treat for garden birds and bird lovers alike, and looks pretty cool too, at least until the birds get stuck in.
For more great garden wildlife gift ideas check out the CJ Wildlife Winter Shop.
NB. CJ Wildlife is Ireland’s Wildlife’s new Official Bird Food Partner, and supplies foods, feeders and accessories for the Ireland’s Wildlife garden. We’re delighted to use CJ Wildlife products here at Ireland’s Wildlife, and from first hand experience we have no problem recommending them to all bird lovers (and the birds love them too 😉 )
2. NGO Gift Packs
Most wildlife NGOs offer gift packs usually including a year’s membership bundled with other goodies. It’s a great way to give a gift that keeps giving all-year-round, and that also gives something back to wildlife conservation.
Some of the main Irish NGOs offering gift options include:
- Birdwatch Ireland Beginning Birdwatching Kit: this is a great kit for anyone just getting started on thir bird watching adventure, and includes a year’s membership of Ireland’s largest conservation charity, a pair of Opticron Oregon binoculars, field guides, bird call CDs and more besides. Check the Birdwatch Website by clicking on the link for full details.
NB. You’ll find an overview of birding in Ireland here… and check out our series of articles on Beginning Bird Watching in association with Meopta Optics.
- Irish Wildlife Trust gift membership: membership of the Irish Wildlife Trust for one year for an individual, a couple, a family or the special “badger” membership for young children.
- Irish Whale & Dolphin Group (IWDG) gift packs: a range of gift packs that include a year’s membership of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group along with a number of other goodies depending on the package you choose — a sure fire hit with anyone interested in whales and dolphins in Ireland
NB. You’ll find more content on whale watching in Ireland here.
Many other Irish NGO’s also offer gift membership — simply search for the organisation you’re interested in and check out their website for options.
3. Wildlife Experience Vouchers
Gift vouchers are sometimes dubbed as “thoughtless” presents: the “what to buy when you can’t think what to buy” option.
That can be true when it’s just a voucher to encourage you to do EVEN MORE shopping in the post Christmas sales. But it’s a different story if your voucher gives you something to look forward to during the year ahead — especially if that something is an unforgettable wildlife experience.
- Discover Wildlife Gift Vouchers: valid for a full year, these vouchers offer the recipient the opportunity to join Ireland’s Wildlife on one of our fabulous Discover Wildlife Experiences on the West Cork coast, enjoying the birds, whales and dolphins, seals, wildflowers, mini-beasts and all sorts of other wildlife. With vouchers from €20 upwards there’s something available to suit every budget.
- Cork Whale Watch Gift Voucher: Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch is Ireland’s most experienced whale watch operator, and in the words of award winning wildlife film-maker Colin Stafford-Johnson is “… one of the best whale guides you’ll ever find”.
These are just a few of the gift voucher options I’m most familiar with. There are many other wildlife experiences out there. Check out your local tourist information office for businesses offering the kind of experiences you’re looking for, or search for them online, then contact the companies and ask if they offer a gift voucher option.
4. Wildlife Magazine Subscriptions
A subscription to a popular wildlife magazine is a superb gift that will keep giving all year round with each new edition that arrives through the letterbox. Most popular magazines offer gift subscriptions… here are a few…
- Irish Wildlife: just crowned as Ireland’s “Best Customer Magazine 2013” at the prestigious annual Irish Magazine Awards, Irish Wildlife is the magazine of the Irish Wildlife Trust. You get the magazine by joining the trust… so it’s included in the IWT gift membership outlined above.
- BBC Wildlife Magazine: possibly the world’s most popular wildlife magazine, crammed with interesting articles and world-class wildlife photography every month.
- Bird Watching Magazine: one aimed at birders, Bird Watching is one of the UK’s top birding magazines
5. Wildlife Books
You can never have enough wildlife books, and there are plenty out there to choose from. Whether it’s a new field guide or a more hefty coffee table tome for some leisurely reading, books make superb gifts that will keep giving pleasure long after Christmas.
Here are a few recently reviewed suggestions:
- Birds of Ireland – a field guide: superb little guide focussed on just the birds you’re likely to see in Ireland — making it a great choice for beginner to intermediate birders, but also a handy reference for more experienced birders. Read the full review here.
- Ireland’s Butterflies – a review: a stunning review of the butterfly species of Ireland, with fabulous photography, detailed species profiles complete with up to date distribution data and a great overview of butterfly biology and conservation. Read the full review here.
- Finding Birds in Irealnd: written by one of Ireland’s best known professional bird guides Eric Dempsey, this book is like having a portable bird guide in your pocket, packed with useful info on the best places to find birds (and by generally other wildlife) all over Ireland. Read the full review here.
There are literally hundreds of books to choose from… check out the selection at the Natural History Book Store (NHBS) site for inspiration.
6. New Binoculars
In some ways this is saving the best until last… because there are few things that enhance the experience of watching wildlife more than a great set of binoculars. Good binoculars aren’t cheap, but they are an investment that will keep delivering amazing views wildlife and nature for years, even decades.
Choosing binoculars can be a tricky conundrum, and everybody’s preferences and needs are slightly different. A good starting point is to check out our Choosing Binoculars Guide for more information on what to look for in a birding and wildlife binocular (or get our mini-e-book on Amazon here). You may also find our binocular reviews helpful.
The table below lists binoculars we’ve personally tested and recommend for wildlife and bird watching use.
What do you think?
These are just a few suggestions for gifts you could get for the wildlife lover in your life this Christmas. What are your top tips for a wildlife Christmas gift? Let us know in the comments below.
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