Bird Watching

birdwatching with binoculars overlooking reservoir

birdwatching with binoculars overlooking reservoir

Bird watching is the observation of birds.  It may also be known as birding.  A favorite pastime or hobby for many people, according to US Fish and Wildlife Service there are currently 51.3 million birders in the United States alone and this number continues to grow.  Bird watching is a great way to spend time outside and enjoy the natural habitats in which different birds live.  Bird watching entails both your visual and auditory senses.  At times you may hear the bird before you see it.  Bird watching is a great for anyone that loves variety and a challenge while pursuing their hobby.

Tools for the beginning bird watcher

There are definite tools that you will need to get started with your new hobby.  First on your list should be a good reference book or two.  The book should be one in which can easily find the bird that you may be specifically looking for or one that helps you to identify the type of bird that you have seen.  There are many great field guides to choose from to get the perfect book for you.  Check with your local bookstore. The next items on your list are pencils and a pad or journal.  A journal is a wonderful way to record where you have spotted a specific bird as well as keeping notes about the bird’s habitat and activities.   The next essential tool that the beginning bird watcher will need is a pair of binoculars.  The old adage “you get what you pay for” is true with binoculars.  It is important that you choose binoculars that will allow you to clearly see the subtle features of the birds you are looking for.  Most bird watchers choose a 7 or 8 power magnification and a 32 to 42 objective lens.  These numbers will read 8 x 32 and is usually recommended for the beginning birder.  Birders that wear glasses should look for binoculars that have a long eye relief. A long eye relief will provide an unrestricted view.  An 8 x 32 binocular will give a wider view and are easier to hold steady.  There are a number of other pieces of equipment that you can buy, but with these listed here you can easily get started with your new hobby.

Where, oh where are all of the birds?

You have your tools and are ready to get started bird watching.  Where do you start first?  There are a number of great ways to find the right spot to start bird watching the first of which being your backyard.  This helps you to learn to use your references, what you want to document, and getting the feel for using your binoculars.  Besides, the backyard can provide a wide range of birds that are fascinating to watch and identify. Some of the factors that you should consider are the time of year, time of day, and the habitat in which you live.  This helps you to learn what birds live in your area and gives you a starting point.

Exploring the bird watchers world.

Once you feel comfortable with the basic tools and observe a few birds you will want to spread your wings.  There is a whole world to explore and groups to join if you so choose.  Resources for groups, trips, vacations and specific species of birds can easily be found by doing a little research.  The Audubon Society is a great place to start.  Visit your local library for current birding magazines. Searching the Internet can also help you to find what you are looking for.

Bird watching, or birding, is a wonderful hobby for anyone that loves our fine-feathered friends.  By yourself in the backyard or on an exotic vacation, you will always have a wonderful time with this hobby.  The main thing to remember is to have fun!


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