Bird watching is a hobby which involves watching and tracking
birds for pleasure or fun. The official term for this hobby is ornithology, although it is more commonly known as
bird watching, or birding, depending on your location. Bird watching or birding is a very popular hobby that
includes the observation and study of birds. Because visual observation of birds is complemented with auditory
observation, the term "birding" is more accurate. Birding is the second most popular outdoor activity in America,
second only to gardening as the number-one recreation.
The use of the shortened term birding was most commonly used
originally in America, whereas in the UK it was referred to as bird watching. But in the UK a third term is also
widely recognised to distinguish someone as a person who watches birds and that is twitching. However, there are
now three different definitions widely accepted for the three different terms, those being that birding refers to
someone who watches wild birds for pleasure, bird watching is for those amateurs who study birds but who do so for
their own purposes and who are not professionals in the field, and that twitching is undertaken to compile a long
list of all the wild birds which have ever been seen in a particular geographic location.
For many people bird watching is an opportunity to feel close to
nature. They also enjoy the relaxation and peacefulness by watching birds. Some birders, however, will travel long
distances just to see a rare bird. These birders are known as twitchers. Twitching is popular in Britain and
several other European countries.
Typically speaking, the hobby of bird watching has not had a
very good press. Often seen to be the hobby of the geek, it is little known that there are actually some celebrity
fans who don their binoculars to look at birds of the feathered variety. Former US president Jimmy Carter enjoyed
relaxing with nature while bird watching, as did former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson. It is also a little-known
fact that Ian Fleming’s most famous creation, James Bond, was named after a famous ornithologist of the same
Most birders start out by watching and attracting birds to their
own backyards. Bird feeding can benefit birds and also provide great bird watching. You can attract a variety of
interesting birds to your yard by selecting and offering the right kinds of food. The common types of food offered
in bird feeding are seeds, nectar, suet and fruit. Early morning is the best time for bird watching since many
birds are then searching most actively for food.
Once you start feeding birds, you'll probably want to identify
who is coming to visit. Equipment used for birding includes binoculars, a blank notebook, and one or more good
Field guides are books with pictures and descriptions of the
birds. A field guide shows birds of just one country, or one region of a country, or one habitat.
Binoculars are described by two numbers: 8x32 for example. The
first number tells you the magnification power of the binoculars. The second tells you the size of the objective
lens at the end of the binoculars in millimetres. Most bird watchers think that 7 or 8 power is about right for
The next step is to broaden your birding experience beyond your
own backyard. Plan a trip to a bird sanctuary, national park and other locations where you can see birds in large
numbers. Wherever you go, never harm the birds and always respect other birders.
And don't forget to join a local birding club. Clubs organize
field trips, show films of good bird watching destinations and some of them are involved in local environmental
projects. Also visit your local library and check out books on birds and ornithology.
Amateur bird watchers have also been responsible for some
impressive finds over the years. The spotting of a rare species has been known to cause many professionals to
descend on an area and conservational work has been undertaken as a result of the discoveries.
Bird watching is incredibly popular and it is a great way for
people to get out and explore nature first hand. The best time of day for bird watching is thought to be for the
first few hours after the sun rises as it is when the birds are at their most hungry and so are more visible and
slightly less wary. Bird watchers often situate themselves in a hide, which is usually an enclosed hut with small
spaces to view outside, so they have a good view of the surrounding area but they are largely hidden from the
birds, preventing them from scaring them off.