I'm a big believer in data and research....it's my background, even if the research is subjective in nature. Like hunters and shooters, birders are avid optics entusiasts and pretty fussy too. I think their requirements and needs are a little different, but nevertheless....here is a link to the COL Scope Quest 2008 reviews, along with a link to the summary table. While I don't agree with how everything rated (I think the new Nikons would have fared much better but I don't believe they were used for this test) I think you will enjoy the review.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?" Thomas Jefferson - Notes on the State of Virginia