Digital technology has had a significant impact on the bird-watching community over the last few years. From cameras with much more advanced telephoto lenses to apps that allow bird-watchers to track sightings, digital technology has had a huge impact.
In this article, we will look at what that impact is and how birding and digital technology can work hand in hand.
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At one stage in time, all you had to do was to go out with your trusty set of binoculars and notebook and see what you could find. And a lot of birders do still work in this way.
The more traditional bird-watching enthusiasts love nothing more than to be able to get out there and see what they can spot on their own. For them, it is the hunt that is more appealing than anything else.
How Technology has Evolved
However, you have a lot more options now. You can stick to your trusty old binoculars and a simple notebook, but there are a lot more ways now to get more out of your overall birding experience.
With the advent of much more powerful lenses, you have even more opportunities to spot birds. And, you can get a much better view, with a far smaller chance of disturbing them.
A 500mm telephoto lens, for example, allows you to see a level of detail that makes it seem as though you are right next to the bird. It’s a great way to get a closeup of birds that are notoriously shy and skittish.
And, if the big lens is not something that you can afford to invest in, you can try digibinning – a technique where you take the photo through the scope of your binoculars using your phone. You will not quite have the same amount of range, but you can get interesting results.
If you want to get the best of both worlds, you can find spotting scopes that can be attached to your phone or your camera through the use of a specialized adaptor and so take the photos that way.
But where digital technology has had the most impact perhaps is when it comes to the various birding apps and other online services that are available to use today.
One such example, the eBird service is available in several countries around the world. It is the largest online birding community worldwide.
The service can be used to find out more about the birds in a particular area, particularly when the best time to visit is, organize your own sightings and allow you to access sightings worldwide.
Managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this service aims to collaborate with several players globally and also hundreds of thousands of users as well. Everyone can contribute checklists, sightings lists, etc.
So, whether you have just started birding and are exploring your local area, or you are visiting a new, exotic location, you can check and see what birds you might expect there.
Other apps, like the Merlin Photo ID app, make it easy to identify birds, all you need to do is get a reasonable photo of the bird, feed it into the app and it will help identify it for you.
What should bird watchers expect in future?
Expect more apps to help you track and identify birds and look forward to stronger lenses and more affordable equipment that is a lot more effective.
Conclusion - Digital Technology Vs Bird Watching
Birding has come a long way since it first started out and that is great for birders. Keep it simple with a notebook and some binoculars, or go high-tech with bird tracking apps and a high-tech camera. Birding has something for everyone.