Birdwatching

  1. Birdwatching or birding is the art and science of observing bird life. People who bird are called birders or birdwatchers. Which usages are correct? All of them, although the tendency these days is toward birding and birder.
  2. Because birding isn't a particularly strenuous hobby, many people with physical limitations enjoy it. You don't have to be able to get around much to watch birds from a hawk watch platform, or a jetty, or the road through a wetlands area. In fact, birding from you car is often the best way to see a bird without scaring it off. Many visually handicapped people enjoy birding by ear—listening for birdsongs.
  3. The science of birds is called ornithology, from ornis, the Greek word for bird. Scientists who study birds are ornithologists.
  4. Are birds related to dinosaurs? Actually, that's not the question any more. According to many researchers, birds are dinosaurs. That cute little chickadee at your bird feeder may well be directly descended from coelurosaurs, a group of theropod dinosaurs that lived in the Mesozoic age some 200 million years ago. These dinosaurs couldn't fly, but they ran around on two legs, had feathers, and looked a lot like birds in every other way.
  5. Birding is the fastest growing outdoor activity in America. More than 63 million people watch birds.
  6. Birders today tend to be well-educated, mature adults. Overall, birders spend more than $29 billion every year on their hobby.
  7. It's easy to get into birding. You need very little equipment, and you can find birds to watch anywhere.
  8. You can already identify many common birds—and you can easily learn to identify many more.
  9. Birding is a great way to get outdoors and into the natural world. You'll have fun and learn more about your environment at the same time.
  10. Because we read from let to right, we naturally scan that way, too. In fact, scanning from left to right is so natural that your eyes might skip right over the bird. Look from right to left; it feels a little weird at first, but I find that it helps me spot the birds faster.
  11. A field guide is a compact, illustrated book designed to help you identify birds in the field through pictures, descriptions, and range maps.
  12. A field mark is some fairly obvious aspect of a bird's appearance, such as color, bill shape, wing bars, head markings, and so on, that helps you identify the bird as that species and no other.
  13. A habitat is the preferred environment of a particular bird species (or any other living thing). Some birds, for example, are found only at seashores. Some birds have specific habitat needs. Roadrunners are found only in deserts; Snowy Owls prefer the tundra. Other birds aren't too fussy; House Sparrows, for instance, appear virtually anywhere near human habitations.
  14. As a new birder, you might act unethically out of inexperience. For instance, you might accidentally get too close to as nest. That could make the parent bird waste a lot of energy chasing you off or keep the parent from getting to its chicks with food. Be alert. Birds that are making alarm calls for fluttering from perch to perch, for example, are under stress—so back off.
  15. When you flush a bird, you're not disposing of a dead one the hygienic way. Rather, you're making the bird fly off suddenly, usually because you've disturbed it in some way.

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