Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks.
Despite the stereotype that birding, or bird watching, is only for elderly women with umbrellas, a study completed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has shown that birding is an activity that is enjoyed by millions of Americans and spans a wide age range. In fact, this 2003 study showed that there are 46 million people in the United States ages 16 and older who are involved with birding regularly. This is staggering when you understand that this is more than the average of people who participate in hunting and fishing combined.
Birding is an inexpensive, entertaining, and educating hobby. It is a fantastic way for people to enjoy nature at its best, relax and get away from the stressful pace of today. Many birders report that bird watching is a natural stress reliever that is as exciting as it is tranquil. Getting started is simple, and you can do it right now. All you really need is to begin educating yourself on bird identification. You should also purchase a good pair of binoculars. Find a natural setting to stand or sit and wait, and if you expect to bird watch from a sunny area, possibly invest in a sunbrella so you do not get sunburned. Birders spend a lot of time outdoors.
While it’s not required, many birders do invest in a camera also. Photographing birds is a favorite pastime for many and some people have even turned it into a career. Believe it or not, there is a market for bird pictures. These pictures are gobbled up by nature magazines, companies that produce greeting cards and calendars, and even textbook publishers.
Whether you want to make money from taking bird photographs or you simply want them to put in a scrapbook for your own enjoyment, it is important that you know the best way to capture birds in a photograph. Great places to read bird photography tips are the Digital Photography School, Bird Watchers’ Digest, Outdoor Eyes, and Nature Photographers.
Here are some other resources you should view if you plan on taking up birding:
- What Bird – A glossary that contains definitions and birding terminology.
- Birding – This resource gives information that the beginning birder will find relevant such as bird identification, birding tips, bird fact sheets, and more.
- Ornis – Links to ornithological websites.
- The Rucksack – Birding and other wilderness trip resources.
- Lewis River – Links to outdoor history and activity sites.
- River Prairie Group – The Sierra Club’s officially recommended links regarding the environment and nature.
Birding is a hobby that anyone, no matter their age, race, gender, or location can enjoy. It does not matter where you live, nearly everywhere in the country has birds flying about. There will just be different kinds in different places – and traveling to new locations to see birds can be fun too! It’s just a matter of getting outside and enjoying them in their natural habitat.