Bird watching (birdwatching), also known as birding, is the observation and study of birds with the naked eye or with the use of bird watching binoculars. Birding includes an auditory component, since birds can be easily and readily identified using the ear rather than the eye. Most people follow birdwatching as a hobby.
Birdwatching can be traced back to the Victorian Era, in Britain, when the study of birds and natural history became fashionable. Collectors would gather eggs, skins and feathers from different colonies. In the 1800s, there was a call to protect birds. This led to the observation and study of birds.
Meanwhile in the United States, as early as 1889, there was already a field guide written by Florence Bailey entitled “Birds Through an Opera Glass”. At that time the focus of bird watching in the United States was mainly in the eastern seaboard region.
Now there are not only local birdwatching guides but also global guides for identifying birds. The availability of air travel enables hobbyists and serious birdwatchers to travel to different places and observe wild birds in their natural habitat.
Birding includes taking precise notes of different details that distinguish one species from the others. Mastering the skills of identifying characteristics of birds will help you determine which birds you are observing. A serious birdwatcher may sit for hours, frequently crouched and hidden from view, in the hopes of spotting a rare or beautiful bird.
Birdwatching is the fastest growing outdoor activity in America. According to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans report that they watch birds. More are taking it up all the time.
So, why are more and more people taking an interest in this activity?
Historically, birds are considered bringers of omens. Ancient Romans believed that the flights and call of birds could foretell the future. Nowadays, modern science uses birds to help predict the future. By noting changes in bird populations it can reflect on the health of the environment.
Most people start birding for simple reasons, like having fun or creating a connection with the wonders of nature. Birding is beneficial for your health because birdwatching gets you outside and walking. Birdwatching is a relaxing sport. Your mind settles when you are out in nature and with birds. The senses open up, you may even find that you enjoy going out alone.
Birdwatching is a great family activity. It unites people across generations. By taking up this activity parents, grandparents and children can all be involved. Some people go birdwatching for social reasons. Nearly every community has a birding club.
There are local bird clubs or magazines devoted to birdwatching that can help you get started. A bird book or a field guide will help you learn more about identifying birds. A field guide provides information, pictures and descriptions of the birds. There are now applications for your smart phone that will help you to identify birds. Birdwatching basics are also available on DVDs or videos.
Now you are ready to go outside and enjoy the birds!