One of the favorite pastimes that is increasing in popularity for a lot of people is bird watching.

Not only does bird watching get you out into nature, but it actually gives you the opportunity to learn the different types of bird species out there and their songs.

The nice thing about bird watching is that it requires nothing more than a pair of binoculars or maybe even just your own eyes and the odd magazine for further research.

You can take the whole family with you when you go bird watching because this activity transcends age groups, meaning everyone in your family can enjoy it together.

Bird books, which date back to Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne (1788) and John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827–38), have stimulated interest in bird-watching. Such important aids in the field as H.F. Witherby’s five-volume Handbook of British Birds (1938–41) and Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds (1947), which offers field marks for all North American birds found east of the Rocky Mountains, are available for many other areas. Similar works exist for several other countries.

What is Bird Watching?

Bird watching (often referred to as birding) is an activity that entails the observation of birds in their natural habitat or in bird sanctuaries and parks, either by a group or individual. This activity has become increasingly popular with more and more people taking it up as a hobby.

There are three definitions of bird watchers:

A birder, birding and bird watcher.

Birder

A birder describes someone that is taking bird watching seriously. In fact, they will likely be professionals or at least have taken the hobby to a very advanced level.

Birding

Birding is someone that watches birds regularly, but at the hobby level. People that fall into this category will usually not be as avid as the birder, but they still love to take part in this interest as a hobby.

Bird Watcher

A person that is simply just observing birds from time to time without being necessarily serious about it is considered a bird watcher . They could also have an interest for ornithology.

Is a bird watcher an ornithologist?

Many bird enthusiasts consider themselves amateur ornithologists, owing to the fact that bird viewing may help you understand more about ornithology and the different species of birds that exist in the globe. Because bird watchers encounter these creatures first-hand, you might learn things about them that researchers have yet to discover.

The British term “twitch” refers to the search for a previously discovered uncommon bird. It is more often known as chasing in North America.

The name twitcher, sometimes mistaken for a synonym for birder, refers to people who go long distances to see a rare bird and tick it off their list.

Bird watching equipment

There are lots of choices for beginner bird watchers who are looking to buy equipment:

A pair of binoculars

You can start observing birds in their natural habitat with nothing more than your eyes. However, bird watching is best done with a pair of quality binoculars.

Wildlife camera traps

Wildlife camera traps are increasingly popular for hunting down rare animals. No doubt, you can also use them to catch footage of birds singing and feeding.

Nature guides/books

Collecting information on the different types of birds out there is a great way to expand your knowledge on this matter.

Bird books

Books that contain information about bird species are also an important tool in bird watching. You can find many different types of these available on websites like Amazon or in bookstores.

Camera-ready nest box

Bird watchers sometimes like to leave their cameras ready for the perfect shot of a nest. This can be accomplished with homemade or purchased nesting boxes that are well-suited for the task.

Bird watching telescope

Bird watchers that are trying to get a closer look at birds can use any type of telescope. They produce high-quality images that are great on budget telescopes as well as high-end ones.

Famous Birdwatchers

  • Sir Paul McCartney.
  • Wes Craven.
  • Rory McGrath.
  • Alison Steadman.
  • Jeremy Clarkson.

What is the point of bird watching?

Bird watching helps you connect with nature. It allows you to observe the different behaviors of birds, their habits and even lets you learn more about them.

It is also a great way to get your family together for an activity that everyone can enjoy.

You can explore nature with your children while allowing yourself some downtime for stress relief.

What are the tools required for bird watching?

Bird watching requires little in terms of tools–just a pair of binoculars or maybe just your eyes.

You will not need any other special equipment but if you want to take pictures or record videos, then it would be nice to have a camera at hand too.

How should I prepare before going on a bird watching trip?

It is important to pack the ride gear for bird watching such as suitable clothing for the climate, shoes, a pair of binoculars and notebook, and a field guide.

Depending on the climate, it would be a good idea to pack some screen and insect repellent on those sunny days since you will be out for a long time.

Note: We recommend not wearing brightly colored clothing. Try to opt for darker colors like blacks and greys. This will allow you to blend into the background and not stand out so much.

What are the steps to bird watching?

Bird watching is very simple and easy.

1. Find a suitable site where there are lots of birds. A good place would be an aviary or an area with many trees or nature preserves.

You can also visit your local park or backyard if you do not have one of these available.

In fact, simply installing a small bird house in the garden or backyard would be a good way to attract birds as well as give you something interesting to watch.

You can even plant some bird-friendly plants that will also provide food for the different types of birds you will see.

2. Make sure you stay quiet and don’t make any sudden moves. If you learn to do this you should be able to study the behavior of the birds in their natural habitat for quite a long time.

3. Start looking through your binoculars or take out your camera if you have any so you can document them and their habits.

This is where the notebook and pencil come in. You can jot down the species of the birds you saw and what they were doing, or if it is an especially rare breed, you can include a sketch

4. Make sure to keep your focus on the behavior of the birds and not be distracted by anything else around you such as your surroundings and other animals.

This way is ensures that you learn everything about the birds’ habits and their environment.

5. Be patient and be prepared to wait. Oftentimes birds will shift positions to get more food and fly into an area where you can watch them more closely. If it is a popularr feeding spot it can be empty, then all of a sudden full with a whole family of different bird species.

FAQs

What does a typical day of bird watching look like?

A bird watching day varies from person to person, the location and how serious they are about bird watching. For example, the vast majority of bird watchers watch birds from the comfort of their home.

They will leave out bird food or buy a bird feeder. This allows the birds to come closer to your home where you can observe them more closely.  

Some people take this very seriously and will go out of their way to ensure that they have all the tools needed for the activity.

How do different seasons affect watching birds?

Although different seasons may impact the type of birds you are able to watch, it doesn’t make bird watching any less fun or interesting just because there are fewer types of birds around.

You should instead go out and explore other areas outside your own neighborhood because you might find yourself surrounded by just as beautiful specimens even if it isn’t what you’re used to seeing during the colder seasons.

What are some useful tools to use while bird watching?

Some useful tools include binoculars, notebook and pencil to take notes, a camera if you want to be able to show others what kinds of birds you saw or even for taking pictures of the various kinds of habitats the types of birds you see might live in.

How much time do I need for bird watching?

That depends on how serious the activity is taken. If it’s just something that is casual then you would not spend more than an hour out there walking around looking at different habitats and trails, maybe a couple of hours.

If you are watching birds from your own backyard or by leaving out bird food, then it could be a little bit longer up to a day fulfilling all of your needs in terms of observing the different kind of birds around you.

What is the best season for bird watching?

There really is no good or bad day when it comes to bird watching. However, the spring time is when you will see more birds as new chicks are born around this time of the year.

Is bird watching good for you?

Yes, bird watching is good for you. Not only are you out in nature, taking walks and getting lots of fresh air. It has profound effects on your mental health and well-being.

References:

Main Image – Hagerty Ryan, USFWS – Free to use CC0