My family and I have a running joke that my sister’s college major is Nature. Her classes include going on week-long hiking trips, teaching children outdoor education, and taking survival classes. She works both with children campers as well as adult mentors and teachers. One of her favorite parts about the outdoors is that it’s something that people of all ages can learn to appreciate, and it’s never too late to do so.
Over the years, our society has noticed a push toward outdoor appreciation so much that one of our continent’s fastest growing hobbies is birding, according to A Sharp Eye. Requiring respect for and knowledge of nature, birding has the ability to capture the interest of both younger and older participants.
What is birding?
Birding is more than just observing birds in their natural habitat. In fact, the hobby can be quite complex. Observing wild birds isn’t as easy as it sounds. Birding requires studying the appearances and behaviors of all kinds of birds. Avid birders know the sound of each birds’ calls, their seasonal plumage, and their chosen locations.
To record the birds they see, birders document their findings in different forms. Some use photography and videography while others stick to the traditional pen-and-pad sketch or painting. Many birders will travel to see specific birds and research the best ways to attract the birds they want to observe.
What’s the draw?
Birding is a flexible hobby and can fit into your schedule the way you best see fit. If you have extra time or money that you want to devote to something that interests you, there are ways to become heavily involved in birding. In this case, birding can be considered a sport. Strapped for time or trying to save a couple bucks? Birding can still fill the hobby slot in your schedule.
Birding keeps you connected to nature and conservation efforts. Once you gain an appreciation for the complexity of a different species, you’re motivated to help maintain their natural habitat.
While birding includes a lot of prep work and research, the actual act of birding requires you to be hands-on with the outdoors. The hobby involves a healthy dose of fresh air and oftentimes exercise as you walk or hike around a park to see your subject.
Many hobbies are seen as a refuge and a way to relax. Birding differs in that it involves concentration and education. However, birding is also very relaxing and peaceful as you become more connected to nature.
Birding is also a hobby that is best shared with others. Teams and clubs exist to bring beginners and experienced birders together into a social environment.
How do I get started?
One of the best parts about birding is the little amount of equipment required.
Before you go out looking for birds, you should know what to look for. Read up and do your research on the different types of birds native to your location. Buy a birding guide or read one online. You can download a free birdguide app from Audubon to get you started. You’ll also need a pair of binoculars to help make the little birdies appear larger.
That’s all! The next step is to actually go out birding. I recommend having a plan before blindly searching for and identifying birds. Pick a bird that interests you and lives nearby, and then go find it. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you find your bird will motivate you to continue seeking out new birds in different places.
Need a hand getting started with birding? Want some help getting involved in a birding club? Ask A Pup, we’re here to help!
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