Bird watching which is also known as birding is the observation of different species of birds as a hobby or some recreational activity. There are many ways to do this; you can use your naked eye, telescope or some other instrument, or you can just enjoy the sound of birds. In most cases the sense of hearing is very important because many birds are easily recognized by their voice rather by their visual. So it’s really important to use your auditory skills well when you are birding.
Types of bird watching
Bird watching is a very ancient hobby and has been going on for hundreds of years but the term bird watching was first heard in 1891 and also bird was declared as a verb in 1918. There are these two terms which are used interchangeably first one is bird watcher and other is birder but it has been seen that many bird watchers prefer to be called birder rather than bird watcher because it doesn’t involves the auditory aspect of watching birds.
In most parts of the world birders want to be differentiated from bird watches because they feel they are superior then bird watchers when it comes to intensity and love for this hobby. But the difference is only subjective and anyone who watches birds can be called a bird watcher or a birder, it really doesn’t make much of difference. These birders describe themselves as someone who observes birds deeply by identifying every bird by their visual and by their voice; they also seem to follow the habitat, food cycle and the pattern of their migration from one place to the other. While a normal bird watcher is someone who watches bird just for the purpose of enjoying nature by seeing them from their own house or from a nearby part and they don’t seem to be interested in the kinds of birds or anything related to the birds. To differentiate these different types of people who observe birds a magazine was released which mentioned the types and how each type is different from the other.
First one is birder, this person is someone who watches birds not just for a hobby but he takes this really seriously and follow this thing like a professional who likes to learn everything there is related to birds. There is this term birding , it is defined as a hobby of enjoying the natural beauty of birds , their habitat and everything there is related to the lives of birds. At last there is this term bird watcher, this term is used for a person who observes birds for no reason or specific purpose at all and this type should not be compared with other types because they are serious about the life form of birds.
There is this term used for finding a bird and is called twitching while the previous term that was used for this was chasing but this term gained popularity and was soon accepted by everyone. Twitching is basically locating a bird you have previously seen and is rare in the nature. People seem to misuse this word and confuse it with the term birder which is a very big misunderstanding because a person who does twitching will travel long distances to see a single bird that he has seen in the past.
This term twitching was first used for the nervous behavior of Howard who was a bird watcher and was really curious about a bird that he wanted to locate. Before this term gained popularity there were other terms used for chasing some rare thing such as pot hunter, tally hunter etc. The interest of people in this is to collect the most number of bird species on his list and some even try to be the person who has the most number of species in his list. The act itself can be called a twitch or chase and a bird that stays at place long enough so that everyone can see it, can be called a bird which is chase able and people who are looking to find it can get to it more easily then a bird who is a quick mover.
When it comes to the countries where you’ll find most twitchers then UK, Sweden, Finland and all other countries where one can travel for the pursuit of a bird easily. The countries mentioned are big so it is easy to travel from one place to the other and the probability of finding that particular bird is more.
This thing encourages more people who love bird watching to do go for twitching and write that down in their list when they come across that particular bird. There have been many popular twitching events and one of them was the chasing of rare bird by more than 2500 people who went to Kent in UK to see it. These people have developed their own vocabulary for different things related to twitching, for example a person who does not succeed in finding the rare bird that he have been looking has dipped off and someone who sees it may feel gripped off. There are many other terms used by these rare bird chasers.
Most of the serious bird watchers maintain a list of birds they have seen in their life; they place it in their list by their physical description, place and the time when they saw that bird. There is an organization by the name of American birding association who has formulated some rules if someone wants to submit a specific rare bird that he has seen. Some people maintain this list by just mentioning the count of the birds they have just heard while others maintain a proper list by writing every detail there is.
History of bird watching
The interest in the beauty of birds rather then there food cycle or habitat was seen in the late 18th century. The time when this bird watching and the study birds became popular was the Victorian era in which every aspect of the birds was in study. People who were wealthy and had contacts with the people who can bring them the specific bird that they want to study used these contacts to get the specimens. Due to the increased popularity and interest of people in observing birds, in the later of 19th century some regulations were imposed for the protection of some endangered species of birds.
This term of bird watching first appeared publically through a book of Edmund by the name of “Bird watching” in 1901. At that time it was though that you can only observe a bird by shooting it but by the advent of optical instrument people started observing them just by looking through it and so as a results people were able see these birds closely without hurting them physically.
So with the start of this bird watching and because of the love of people for birds caused establishment of some organization such as Audubon society which was against the killing of birds and many other societies which were made for the protection, and preservation of certain precious birds. With the invention of car and its regular use caused increased movement of bird watchers who can now travel to new places in search of birds. As a result of increased bird watchers in UK, some networks of these people started to form so that they could get in touch if they needed to. One of such network was British Trust for ornithology, this network unlike others such Audubon society which was formed as a result of bird protection movement focused mainly on producing scientific results by getting advantage of this network. They were quite successful also in this regard, in 1940 they changed their focus and turned to habitat, ecology and other behaviors of bird life. BTO suggested organized bird watching because of the increased number of bird watchers and there movement but the RSPB declined the suggestion saying that you can’t regulate something that is a past time thing.
The increased interest of people in watching birds caused books which were written solely on the topics of birds became the best seller in that time. Just when the air travel became feasible and people started traveling long distances easily, a birding company opened in 1965 for the people interested in seeing birds of different kinds in different part of the world. These long distance travel also caused many difficulties of names because there are places where you’ll find many birds of same specie so you’ll have to come up to some new name for these new birds of the same species. The decreasing rate of air travel made it possible for people to go to remote or low populated areas and see some really rare birds.
At the start this was just a hobby and people were interested in them just for enjoying the beauty of these birds but with passage of time it has became more of a profession for many people.