Bird-watching connects a person with nature. It can be a form of relaxation to be outside and admire birds, or it can be a thrilling experience when finally spotting that rare species. Not much is needed to become a bird-watcher. A pair of binoculars is a necessity, while more passionate or professional birders may want to have a telescope and a proper field guide.
Why Go Bird-watching?
Bird-watching may be a good reason to leave the house and spend time outdoors. It is an easy hobby to take up; one can start birding everywhere because birds are omnipresent. Bird-watching is never-ending because one will never have seen all birds.
Birding is easy to pick up, after all birds are among the animals that are the easiest to spot – contrary to e.g. some mammals or reptiles. On the other hand, one can make birding as challenging as one wants. Male, female and a juvenile bird all look different and in order to identify them properly one has to know the description of all three. Bird-watching is a hobby that grows on a person; the more one learns, the more interesting it becomes.
Bird-watching is not only a way to connect with nature. It is a good hobby to share with others and birders often have a form of camaraderie. They like to help each other out, pointing out interesting birds or places for bird-watching. Friendships may evolve from sharing the joy of birding.
Bird-watching Equipment and Preparation
- Basic birding equipment consists of a pair of binoculars and a local bird book. More professional bird-watchers may want to use a telescope. Practical things to bring on any bird-watching trip are a hat, sun lotion, water and some snacks, extra clothing depending on the season or time of the day [sweater / jacket].
- Find a good guide. Not just a birder, but a local birder, the one who knows the right places and times to go bird-watching.
- Before setting off note what birds may be found at the birding location. It saves a lot of time searching in the field guide for potential bird species. For example, when bird-watching in Brazil it is a waste of time to search for a potential bird species which happens to live only in Canada.
Bird-watching Holidays – Where and How to Find the Birds?
The Internet and a field guide are good ways to learn what birds are to be seen where, and when. Some birds are migratory and may not be in one particular spot all year around. Internet may also be a good place to look up on a birder in a far-away destination and to make contact, so that when one gets there, a good guide is waiting.
If Internet doesn’t provide a guide, then maybe the locals know somebody. Locals may also be a good source of information on bird spotting locations. Organised birding trips are an easy way to be taken to the right spot by the right person.
- Don’t look at just birds. There are plants, butterflies and so many other things to enjoy.
- Don’t just watch the colours. Watch the bird’s behaviour and habitat, which teaches so much more about the bird. Is it hanging upside down, does it live on the ground or high in the trees. Why? Is it a question of food, of safety, etc.
- Listen to the sounds, try to recognize them by their twitter or calls. Putting hands behind the ears helps narrowing down where the sound comes from.
- Keep a list of what bird has been spotted and when. What initially was thought of as a local bird, may in fact be found all over the world.
- Learn their Latin names. Some species are further subdivided in Latin names than in English [or any other language].
- Join a bird society. It may be nice to meet kindred spirits and to exchange information. Bird societies may also form strong parties when it comes to environmental issues in a country and therefore help preserve nature.
Bird-watching as a Hobby
Bird-watching is available to everybody, it is independent of age, geography and financial means. Birding can be done on any particular spot in one’s nearby living environment, one can join an organised birding trip as well as book an exotic bird-watching holiday, for example to the Brazilian Amazon:
- The Pakaas Jungle Lodge in Guajará-Mirim, Rondônia.
- The Floresta Amazônica Hotel in Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso.