What a nice gift! One of my favorites for the purposes you mentioned is the Night Detective B-Quest
for a few reasons. First of all, it is a true binocular with two separate intensifier tubes, as opposed to a biocular, which still has two ocular lenses, but only one objective lens and only one intensifier tube. The B-Quest is fairly lightweight compared to other binoculars, and the magnification is 3x. Most are 5X, which I consider too much for most purposes. You don't really see anything more, and the resolution is much more grainy with high magnification. You don't have to spend a lot more money for a good, useable product. The next generation, generation two, will cost you thousands instead of hundreds. Sorry I didn't see your question sooner. These binoculars will let you see your night time critters as well as any gen one product can, but keep in mind that the picture through night vision is nothing like through a regular binocular. The image is green and grainy, but still a lot of fun at a reasonable price. Merry Christmas!