The first optics a birder needs is a good binocular. Then if you want to see birds far away, such as at a wetland, grassland, or the ocean, you'll eventually want to add a spotting scope to your equipment.
Now there is a line of new, really good but moderately priced spotting scopes. The Vortex Vipers.
They come in straight or angled, in full sized (80mm) or compact (45mm), and in HD glass or even more economical plain glass.