What is the most pleasant way to watch time fly? Birdwatching!
Birdwatching, or birding, is a popular pastime. Observing wild birds in their natural environment is relaxing and fascinating. What a peaceful way to spend a day!
This has been called the Number-One Spectator Sport in America. Can you believe it? More people watch birds than any professional sporting event!
Does that mean there are more oriole enthusiasts than Orioles fans? More redwing blackbird buffs than Redwings rooters? More cardinal-lovers that Cardinal boosters? Yes!
For fledgling birdwatchers, here are a few helpful instructions. These may help you to spy your favorite birds on the fly.
Select an appropriate habitat.
Find out where the birds live, and seek out the ones you want to see. In North America, if you are patient and you know where to look, you might spot many of 800 species of birds.
Start with a good book.
First, browse through your local bookstore, or surf online booksellers for basic bird identification books. Simple paperback field guides (with photos) are quite easy to find and extremely handy for on-the-spot identification of various bird species. Many of these guides focus on specific geographical areas and contain helpful information about birds that are native to those regions.
The study of birds is called ornithology. This science includes health, habitats, mating secrets, nutrition, and more.
By reading up before your first foray into the field, you will learn where to look, what signs to spot, what sounds to heed, and what birds you might see. After a bit of study, you will be ready to spot that chickadee, cuckoo or kingfisher!
Grab your binoculars.
Best of all, birding is basically free. All you really need is a good pair of binoculars.
As you grow proficient in finding and identifying various species, you can add a super camera with a zoom lens. (Hey, if you can sell a few photos for publication, you can probably write-off the camera on your tax return!)
A little research goes a long way. Look in that bird book, or search online. Read about natural habitats for various types of birds. Many species may appear in your own backyard, local parks, or forest preserves.
Pack snacks and water.
Once you have selected your viewing spot, you may have to camp out for a while before your feathered quarry appears. Certainly, you don’t want to fight hunger pains or dehydration while you wait. Pick quiet snacks for munching while you are hunkering down in your hiding spot. Avoid crinkly wrappers, shiny foils, and breakable containers. (And be sure to take all trash items with you when you leave!)
Go in good company.
Often, a veteran birdwatcher likes to take a friend along. After all, two sets of eyes (and binoculars) are better than one. However, you will have to resist the temptation to talk once you are safely hidden in the field. Work out some basic hand-signals, so you can alert each other to the arrivals of your avian friends!
Be patient and quiet, as you wait for the birds to show up. Have fun!
Be a good neighbor.
Try to avoid disturbing the birds and other creatures (including people), as you make your forays into the field! Watch your step, and try to leave branches unbroken, flowers intact, and the environment even cleaner than you found it.
Obviously you must stay off private property, and keep those binoculars pointed at the birds. Peeping at human subjects can be dangerous to your health!