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Birdwatching

Bird watching is a dedicated and passionate hobby for many people. With so much diversity in animal life in our world, it can be very enjoyable to undertake this hobby.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Bird watching resources. We have a Bird watching forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Bird watching how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Bird watching books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


If you are looking for a hobby that will get you outdoors, is environmentally friendly, and doesn’t take a big investment in instruction or equipment to get started, then bird watching may be for you. You can even start in your own backyard or local parks, and you don’t need to be super fit or do a lot of research and training to get started. Best of all, bird watching is one of the fastest growing hobbies, so it’s a great way to meet new friends.




Where and when to bird watch


Most birdwatchers will keep an eye on birds around them at all times but will make specific trips to observe birds fulltime. The most active times of the year for birding in temperate zones are during the spring or fall migrations when the greatest variety of birds may be seen. On these occasions, large numbers of birds travel north or south to wintering or nesting locations. Early mornings are typically better as the birds are more active and vocal making them easier to spot.




Certain locations such as the local patch of forest, wetland and coast may be favored according to the location and season. Seawatching is a type of bird watching where observers based at a coastal watch point, such as a headland, watch birds flying over the sea. This is one form of pelagic birding, by which pelagic bird species are viewed. Another way birders view pelagic species is from seagoing vessels.




Weather plays an important role in the occurrence of rare birds. In Britain, suitable wind conditions may lead to drift migration, and an influx of birds from the east. In North America, birds caught in the tail-end of a hurricane may be blown inland.




And, of course, you can follow other bird watchers, or try to find out where birds have recently been seen. This is much easier to do today than in the past, where by the time news got around of an interesting sighting, the birds had often moved on. In the early 1950s the only way of communicating new bird sighting was through the postal system and it was generally too late for the recipients to act on the information. In 1953 James Ferguson-Lees began broadcasting rare bird news on the radio in Eric Simms` Countryside program but this did not catch on. In the 1960s people began using the telephone and some people became hubs for communication. In the 1970s some cafes, like the one in Cley, Norfolk run by Nancy Gull became centers for meeting and communication. This was replaced by telephone hotline services like "Birdline" and "Bird Information Service".




With the advent of the World-Wide Web, birders have been using the internet to convey information; this can be via mailing lists, forums, bulletin-boards, web-based databases and other media. While most birding lists are geographic in scope, there are special-interest lists that cater to bird-identification, `twitchers`, seabirds and raptor enthusiasts to name but a few. Messages can range from the serious to trivial, notifying others of rarities, questioning the taxonomy or identification of a species, discussing field guides and other resources, asking for advice and guidance, or organizing groups to help save habitats. Occasional postings are mentioned in academic journals and therefore can be a valuable resource for professional and amateur birders alike. One of the oldest, Birdchat (based in the US) has probably got the most subscribers, followed by the English-language fork of Eurobirdnet, Birding-Aus from Australia, SABirdnet from South Africa. Orientalbirding, India.




Several websites allow users to submit lists of birds seen, while others collate and produce seasonal statistics, distribution maps.




Equipment


To get started, the best investment you can make is a good pair of binoculars specifically designed for bird watching. Most specialty outdoor, hunting, or wild bird equipment suppliers will be able to help. Expect to pay around $100 for a good entry-level pair of bird watching binoculars. As you become more experienced, and develop specific areas of interest, or if you want to compete or photograph your birds, there’s a wide variety of equipment available to you. What you choose depends on your interests and your budget, but some of the main categories of bird watching supplies are listed below.




Choose your field guides according to the types of birds you expect to see. A selection of small guides for your specific locations, even seasonal guides, is much more convenient to carry on bird watching expeditions than a large volume covering birds of many areas or even countries. There’s no need to carry a heavy guide full of information about birds you simply aren’t going to find in your area or at that time of year.




Who can help


Prominent national and continental organizations concerned with birding include the British Trust for Ornithology and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom, the National Audubon Society in the United States, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the American Birding Association in North America (USA and Canada). Many state-wide or local Audubon organizations are also quite active in the United States, as are many provincial and local organizations in Canada. BirdLife International is an important global alliance of bird conservation organizations. Many countries and smaller regions (states/provinces) have "rarities committees" to check, accept or reject reports of rare birds made by birders.