As a life-long bird watcher and owner of two backyard wild bird stores, I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of birders: casual, backyard birders and serious, “get-out-into-the-field” birders.
For most people, their interest in birds starts gradually and develops over a long period of time. Maybe their interest in birds was initially influenced by either their parents, or perhaps their grandparents, who had birdfeeders in their yard. Interestingly, those who fit into this category of being a casual, backyard birder usually don’t even think of themselves as being a “birder.”
On the other end of the spectrum, individuals who are more serious about bird watching typically go beyond just watching the birds in their yard – they travel to birding destinations with the goal of seeing specific target birds. I frequently label this category of individuals as “field birders.” Field birders like to explore different parts of their state, country or even travel abroad to see bird species they would never encounter where they live.
One of the nice things about the hobby of bird watching is that it is easy to get started, with a minimal investment. The most basic tools for bird watching are a pair of binoculars and a field guide. A good field guide should be specific to the region where you live. It should also have a narrow approach, rather than covering a broad area such as North America.
The hobby of bird watching is flexible and can easily be combined with so many other outdoor activities. For example, if you like to do a lot of walking or hiking, it is easy to take your binoculars with you in case you see something of interest while you are out.
Another convenient feature of bird watching is that you can participate in this hobby everywhere you go. I personally have never been anywhere where there weren’t birds – you’ll find birds from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the top of the San Francisco Peaks! I know, because I have done it.
So, how can you grow into the hobby of bird watching? Start simple. Start in the comfort of your own home. Start with a hummingbird feeder, or maybe a seed or suet feeder. Let the birds come to you. Create an environment in your yard that is inviting to wild birds, and nature in general. I love the fact that I can watch birds by simply looking out the window. It’s that easy.
I will caution you: the hobby of bird watching will grow on you. I find the more I watch birds, the more I want to watch them. It is a hobby that helps create a connection to nature. It is an easy way to be distracted from the cares of the world, to relax a little and feel one with nature. FBN
By Eric Moore
Eric Moore is a life-long birder and is owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, a backyard wild bird and nature gift store nest to Michael’s in the Sprouts shopping center in Varsity Plaza in Flagstaff. Contact him with your questions at 928-774-1110, jaysbirdbarn.com or find us on Facebook.