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Unless you are physically unable to carry a pair of 8x42 binoculars for an extended period of time (most are in the 1.5-2lb range), that's what you should get.
I can understand why you'd want to get Bushnells, as they are based in Overland Park, but they are all made in China anyway. Regarding Athlon vs. Nikon, this review might help:
but as a counterpoint read this forum's opinion: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....t=Athlon+midas
(I have never tried it, so I can't comment).
If your budget can stretch to $1000, I would recommend having a look at the Nikon Monarch HG 8x42, the Canon 10x42L IS (stabilized) and the Leica Trinovid HD 8x42. If 8x42 are too heavy, the Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25 and the new Swarovski 8x30 CL Companion (not sure when they are expected to be available in the USA).
E-commerce has taken a toll on camera and optics stores, but you could always visit your local Cabela's and sample their selection. Don't let them sweet-talk you into buying the store brand, unless it's old-new-stock EuroHDs (made by Meopta) which are excellent binoculars, keenly priced.
Last but not least, keep an eye out for the Binocular Bargains thread: