About Bird Watching

woman in beautiful park watching wildlife with binoculars

A Hobby for all Ages and Locations

Bird watching is also referred to as “birding.” Birding is the sport of learning to identify birds in their natural habitat and correctly ascertaining what they are doing. For years birds have fascinated humans. Ancient civilizations believe that birds were messengers from God and could predict certain outcomes. Today, we know – and have scientifically proven – that birds can indicate shifts in a habitat and environment.

Birding is an activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages in all parts of the world. In North America alone there are more than 800 species of birds, which ensures that no matter where you call home there is a population of birds for you to learn about and observe.

Bird watching is a good excuse to get outside. It is a hobby that be enjoyed solo or with young children and families. In addition to light exercise, most birders agree that the world gains a certain beauty when you focus on the wildlife around you. In addition, the abundance of birding clubs and meetings around the country ensure that no birder will ever need to travel alone if they don’t want too.

Materials for Successful Birding

Considering most hobbies require the purchase of expensive equipment, memberships or training, birding is relatively cheap. You’ll need the following before your first outing:

  • Notebook – It is best to record what you see and where you see it at the time of observation. After several trips it will become confusing to attempt to recall all the occasions you saw a particular species. A notebook prevents confusion.
  • Field Guide – Field guides range from the basic to the advanced. They can also vary by location, if desired. Peterson Field Guides are popular and The National AudubonSociety has put together a nice comparison of the most helpful guides.
  • Binoculars – The easiest way to view birds up close is through the lens of binoculars. Before purchasing your first pair, consider the time of day and geographic location you will most frequently be bird watching. For example, do your binoculars need to be waterproof? Check out this guide on buying binoculars for your first birding adventure.

In addition to the materials above, you might consider purchasing a birding vest, which allows you to easily store your notebook and binoculars within reach. A hat and water bottle are also recommended gear.

Getting Involved in the Birding Community

It is fairly easy to join an existing birding club. The American Birding Association maintains a running list of clubs in North America. When you’re ready for your first adventure review the top 250 birding locations and pick a spot. In addition, your local parks and recreation department likely maintains a list of parks with bird trails.

Bird watching can provide you with a sense of community and belonging in the world. Birds and their natural ability of flight are a wonder of our world and a great asset to the environment. You’ll find that the increased time outdoors, coupled with the appreciation for the living things around you, is a benefit that you cannot quite describe on paper alone.

Additional Resources





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