Monocular has built-in bird identification

You knew it was just a matter of time until someone invented an optical device that identified the bird you were looking at while you were looking at it.

Swarovski, source of some of the world's finest binoculars and spotting scopes, has done that with its 8x25 dG digital guide monocular. It has a 13mp digital camera, and a Wi-Fi mode that interfaces with apps for iOS or Android smartphones and tablets. It identifies the bird you are looking at, documents the sighting, and lets you share the photo.

Just under 6 inches long, it operates in temperatures from 14 to 131 degrees F., and has a USB charging port for a battery that is said to hold a six-hour charge. Price is just under $2,100 depending on model.

Jim Williams

Feeding suet to chickadees

Chickadees are not well equipped to eat suet. Their small, stubby bills are meant for picking up insects and seeds, not for chopping. Woodpeckers use their longer, pointed bills to poke and hammer suet from chunks or cakes. Chickadees will eat suet, though, a fine calorie-rich food for them in this cold weather. Chop the suet into small (small!) pieces. Set it on your feeder tray or somewhere accessible and visible. Close to a seed feeder would be good, or with a mix of seeds on a flat surface, the seeds offering the initial draw.

Jim Williams

Your birding questions answered

What makes blue jays blue? What makes cardinals red? What's the best thing you can do to help birds in winter?

For many years, birding columnists Val Cunningham and Jim Williams have answered such questions from readers, and readers have shared their stories of bird behavior with them.

To tap that vast resource of birding information, go to and search for "Val Cunningham" or "Jim Williams."

Oh, and if you're looking for the answers to those first two questions, go to and