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You might say the birders want the same thing from their birding scopes as hunters and shooters want from their rifle and pistol scopes, namely exceptional optics. Everyone loves bright, high-contrast images with true-to-life colors. Birders also appreciate rugged construction and optics that are well sealed from dust and weather, preferably nitrogen-filled, so they won't fog up, such as can be found in Burris scopes, among others.
Usability is an equally important feature. A birding scope shouldn't weigh a ton. It should be easy to focus and usable on a car window mount. Built-in, slide-out sunshades and easy-to-use lens caps are little extras that help a lot. Last but not least, a birding scope needs a good aiming device, to help you watch the birdies before they fly away.