Backyard Birdwatching: Getting started without leaving the yard
What exactly is bird watching? If you go walking through the forest and spy a bird, are you bird watching? Do you have to be knowledgeable in the study of birds before you are considered a bird watcher?
Bird watching or birding is basically defined as the observation and study of birds with the naked eye or through a visual enhancement device like binoculars for birdwatching.
Though some may disagree, bird watching and birding is essentially the same thing, both are the observation of birds in the wild.
Table of Contents
Backyard Birdwatching vs. Birding
In the birding community though, there is some disagreement about grouping the two terms into the same category. Many deem bird watching to be different than birding on quite a few levels. They feel that mere bird watchers deem it more as a past time and don’t pursue it with the same enthusiasm as a birder. It is felt that bird watchers are more content to observe more locally and don’t invest in the same grade of equipment as that of a birder. In short, birders don’t tend to rank themselves in the same category as bird watchers.
Birders feel this way because they tend to invest in higher technology equipment and are dedicated to study birds for more than general observation. Many birders will purchase optical equipment such as spotting scopes. They may even invest in auditory equipment in order to identify the species by year. They take note in moult, distribution, migration patterns, and habitat. Birders are also more prone to travel in order to pursue their passion of birds. It’s basically the same sport; one group just takes it a notch higher than others.
What Does Birding Entail?
So what do you do when you go birding? Birding is a little more involved than merely looking at birds, though you do observe them. Birding also included learning to recognize the birds and identify them. As with any subject you study, you begin to understand the birds and gain knowledge of what they’re doing while in nature. Many people outside the birding world don’t seem to realize that there are over 800 different types of birds.
Obviously everyone has to start somewhere when they begin a new hobby or sport. You aren’t going to automatically know everything there is about birds without researching them. For many it takes years before they gain a firm understanding of all the aspects of birding, and all are still learning as new information emerges. Just for clarification purposes, going to the zoo and looking at birds is not birding. Birding is the observation of birds in the wild or natural habitat, not in cages or captivity.
So do you have to be some retired person with loads of money in order to go birding? Not at all, anyone who has an interest can watch birds. It’s something that you can start out young and continue through adulthood. It’s an activity that can involve the whole family. There is no encompassing age or demographic when it comes to birding. It’s actually proving to be one of the fastest growing activities in America and is also extremely popular in Britain as well.
Why get involved in Backyard Birdwatching?
So why should I observe birds? Why do other people sit and watch birds? Birds are a beautiful species that are absolutely amazing, especially while in flight. It’s breathtaking to just sit and watch them soar so high above the earth, so effortlessly in the clouds. In ancient times, the bird was considered a foreseer of the future. Now in or world of technology, they can still let us know what we can expect in the environment. They can often help us build a stronger bond with nature.
Are there any the benefits that come with birding? To the beginner and novice in birding, there are a variety of benefits that you can benefit from. First and foremost is the fun and pleasure that can be found in birding. There is also a certain satisfaction that comes from searching for the different species of bird. It’s almost like hunting without harming your prey. Birding can also be a fun family activity that helps to strengthen the bond between children, parents, and grandparents. Also it helps introduce children to nature and aid them in gaining a respect for it as well.
Birding is a versatile sport that can be either done with or without others. If you are seeking companionship, then birding can be a great social activity. You can share your interest with friends, family, or even join a birding club. If you seek the chance to get away from everyone for some well deserved solitude, then that is also an option. It’s perfectly acceptable to go birding alone. You can go explore nature with the only sounds coming from the birds you are observing.
So now that you have an interest in birding, where do you go? For beginners it can be as simple as stepping out your front door. Start with your own neighborhood; observe the birds in your own backyard, so to speak. Watch their behaviors, look at what they’re doing. Once you’ve done that, try to start identifying the birds you see. Start paying attention when you travel, especially if there is a change in environment. It’s likely that you’ll see new species of birds when you travel quite a ways from home. This is just the start of your birding experience.