If you are a new bird watcher, then you may be confused about the terminology between bird watching, birding and ornithology. Let’s start with a brief explanation of all three.
It is simply listening to or watching birds wherever you are. Inside your house, driving, walking in a park or hiking.
If you are noticing birdlife and enjoying their splendor, then you are bird watching.
Some people refer to “birding”, as an activity only practiced by “serious” bird watchers who go out into the field to observe birds.
I believe anyone who is watching birds in their yard or out in the field, are birding". People can practice their love of birdlife anywhere they like.
Some people may physically not be able to go out into nature to observe birds. But they may regularly watch birds that visit their outdoor space with much relish.
I will add in a term here, I believe to be mainly used in the UK:
Here is a definition of twitcher from Audubon.org's dictionary:
We have avid bird chasers like that here in North America but the term twitcher has not caught on.
There are conflicting views on what an ornithologist is.
Myself, I have always thought an ornithologist had to have studied birds in an accredited university and achieved a doctorate degree.
But after some research on what an ornithologist is, not everyone would agree.
All you need is to look and listen. But if you want a longer and closer look then there are other things you can do to reach that goal.
For bird watching in your outdoor space, then some plant life, (trees, shrubbery or flowers) is all you need and birds will visit your yard.
And even if your yard does not have trees or bushes you will likely be able to attract birds.
The first thing you can do is erect a bird feeder on a pole. Then create a perching spot by attaching a branch to a fence or pole works well, within ten feet of the feeder.
If there are no trees within 20 feet of your feeder then a pile of brush will serve as a place for birds to take refuge to hide from predators and for rest, while they wait their turn at your feeder.
There are numerous types of wild bird feeders that will hold different types of food and attract many species of birds.
There are many other things you can do to draw birds up close, like adding a bird bath or bird house.
If you don’t have a yard, then a bird watching club will be helpful in locating the best bird watching spots.
But any local park will have wild birds inhabiting its grounds that you can enjoy watching.
Bird watching does not have to be an expensive hobby. Just a little food on your window ledge or taking a walk, will provide ample opportunities for viewing wild birds.
If you attract birds up close with food, then you will not even need binoculars. But, if you want a closer look, you don't have to spend a lot of money to get enough magnification to aid in seeing birds more clearly.
A field guide will also help for identifying the wild birds you are seeing. This again does not have to be costly. And both binoculars and ID material will last for many years.
Here is a list of items you may want to consider if you decide you want to go on bird watching expeditions that require hiking short or long distances.
This list are items to consider:
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