Bird Watching: Is it Fun? Is it a Hobby? You Decide.
Watching birds through the window
The pleasure side
There are those who are just beginners that think of bird watching as enjoyment - not all beginners think this same way. They simply place a couple of feeders near the house, fill them with inexpensive seed (maybe mixed), grab a cup of coffee/tea and sit at the window amused by the birds at the feeders.
As soon as they empty their cups they rise and leave the table only to notice later that the seeds might have lowered rather swiftly. Since they know nothing about bird watching that is what they think happens all of the time. They assume that the birds ate the seeds, refill the feeders, and go about their business until the next time that they sit down to watch the birds. What they do not know is that the reason for the seeds disappearing quickly may be a squirrel (or other non-bird animal). They only think that the birds eat the seeds. It has to be learned as you go, unless you have another source.
Ways to deter bird seed pests
on avg. 8.00 - 48.00 (up)
1.Cayenne Pepper 2. Place loose pipe around feeder pole
on avg. 2.00 - 20.00 (+ pipe)
Cayenne Pepper and move feeders from trees
Nothing to five dollar
1) Caged feeders; 2) Hopper feeders; 3) Keep seeds off ground
Costs of feeders from store/retailer
The birdbath has Bluebirds in the winter.
The backyard bird watcher.
This group of bird watchers who have studied a little deeper as to which seeds are preferred by which birds and the seeds are purchased with more care. The feeders are observed more and when squirrels go after the seeds the squirrels are chased away until a baffle is purchased to keep them off for times when nobody can be there.
This group watches the birds longer than only over a cup of tea, they go outside sometimes to watch the birds. Bird baths are put up and the birds keep the watchers enthralled longer. They also listen to the sounds (songs & calls) which the birds make, and try to pinpoint which bird(s) the sound(s) have come from.
It is also learned how feeders and baffles, and other devices, can be handmade. Information can again be learned online if books are not able to be purchased.
One of the secrets of bird watching - which may not appeal to some - is to be calm and friendly to the birds. Smile, think nice thoughts. Move very slowly when you see birds in your yard. Allow the birds to search for their food. You will eventually learn when you start to come near their nests. When you learn that, remember where the nests are and approach the area with caution. It will take time, but the birds will begin to trust you.
If it is a nice morning/afternoon, you can sit at your patio, or balcony, table with a cup of coffee or tea and a book/magazine. Place a small bowl of seeds on the other side of the table. Eventually a daring bird, such as a chickadee or a Blue Jay, will come by to check the seeds. It may not land or eat immediately but just be patient. It will return. I had chickadees, titmice and I believe even finches and sparrows eating out of my hands.
Here is an example of a bird hide or bird blind
Birds taking flight at dock
The serious side.
When bird watchers get this far along, they go watch the birds at places away from their backyards. When they do so in the same spots on a regular basis, they need a way to view the birds without startling the birds from their normal routine.
In your backyard birding, you had "hiding" inside the house to do this. Now what the people do is they build special site(s) to watch from. It is called a "Bird watching hide" or "bird blind". It has small windows, perhaps only on one side, or perhaps more on other sides - depending where the people are watching. The windows usually have one-way glass or something close to it. Whatever keeps the birds from seeing the movements from inside the bird hide.
People who do this are usually members of clubs or groups which may be large or small. For instance, they might be concerned with bird conservation of birds which are going to be - or nearly going to be - extinct. They might be volunteers who are taking a scheduled bird count. They do not know who they are doing it for it is simply for 'the birds' - so to speak.
Which type of bird watcher are you?
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Discover the secret of fun:
When you begin watching birds as a child it is fun to watch them.
When you finally watch, and maybe feed, birds in the backyard it is enjoying - especially when you add new birds to your list.
If you become an ornithologist you smile when you discover a new bird or a lost bird.
I believe that no matter what age that you are, no matter which type of birdwatcher you are, there will continue to be that thrill inside of you whether you show it or not - and you will show it even if you think that you do not.
Hummingbird at feeder
Binoculars w/neck strap
Supplies/Tools that you will need gradually.
Depending on how you grow, here is a brief list of items to start you off. You may need to add or remove items from this list in relation to how serious you get.
Books/Magazines - There are many editions of books out there. From beginners to professional. If you are just starting out then I would suggest the beginners editions. I bought several of them when I was starting and they definitely helped me for some time. You need to search to find which one(s) is/are right for you.
Some bird watchers have only one book all of their life. While others continue buying books all of their life. There are also bird magazines to subscribe to. I had a subscription to one for years called Birds & Blooms. I thought that it was very interesting since I was into both birds and gardening at the time. That is not the only magazine which I subscribed to/purchased. I had a few other subscriptions and I purchased random ones at the store now and then.
Clubs & Forums - You may also want to become a member of a club, or clubs, if you really become serious. You may simply want to go online to join a forum. I have joined a few, such as About.com
Feeders - There are assorted types of feeders: tray, square, hanging, hummingbird (photo), suet, and so on. You have to familiarize yourself with what birds are in your vicinity/yard; with what types of seeds each species of bird eats or prefers; what feeders hold which seeds and which birds prefer which feeders. To learn this you need to read the books and to test the feeders and seeds a little.
To place your feeders around your yard, you can hang them from a tree or you can hang them from a special hook which is made for bird feeders. There are many varieties of these: short, tall, single, multiple or you can purchase ones which hang from tree branches, short, medium, or long.
You may also buy straight poles to place into the ground for tray and similar feeders. These poles can also be used to hold up bird houses if/when you do that.
Binoculars - Even in your own yard, you will eventually want to see the birds closer when they are across the yard or at least a distance from you. So you may want to invest in a pair of binoculars. If you plan on repurchasing another pair in the future, then you may want to start with a cheaper pair and research them as you go.
Just remember, a suitable magnification power for bird watching is 7 x 35 or 8.5 x 42. The first number refers to the power which the binoculars will magnify an object. Any larger than the above numbers and you have problems holding an object still. The second number refers to the outer lens and how much light is allowed in. The more light, the clearer the bird.
One mistake by most beginners is small, light, pairs simple to carry. These rarely have the power or light which is good for bird watching. A good sized pair for bird watching will probably not fit into your pocket, they should weigh about 25 oz. average with a neck strap.
If, on the other hand, you plan on purchasing only one pair, then you may want to research them well before you buy any.
If you have a reason for not moving the binoculars from a specific location, say you are watching a bird nest, or if you have other reasons such as writing notes. There are stands which you can place the binoculars onto.
Cameras - You may be drawn into taking photos of the birds. Purchasing a camera is the same as I said above for the binoculars. The difference is that there are various sorts of cameras and you may want to change. Binoculars are basically the same except for the price.
For instance, there are film cameras, digital cameras, Polaroid (instant) cameras, etc. You may want one or more. Of course, these days there are cameras in cells phones and iPhones if you are not into perfection. These can usually be hooked directly to laptops and desktops. I remember when I used to use mostly a 35 mm and a 110 instant - both film cameras. Unfortunately they are both packed away now.
There are other 'tools' which you may or may not use in your hobby-adventure, depending how far you take it, such as scopes.
Travel to see birds
There are also bird tours, bird events, traveling across the US and even outside of the US there are even fairs to go to! Just look in your phone book, the library, or on the Internet, wherever you can find the information.
Bird guide book
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It is up to you.
How far do you think you will go?
Other terms for bird watching
Is acceptable for anyone who pursues it as a hobby or a sport.
A sport and/or hobby in which a person enjoys the confrontation, basic activities and listing of birds.
Can describe someone who watches birds (or girls) for any reason.
This is a British term used to mean "pursuing a rare bird".
Scientific study of birds
Which bird is which?
A lot of the enjoyment, whether you are a beginner or advanced, is identifying the birds. This can be done both by sight and by sound, for sometimes you may see the bird and sometimes you may only hear it. You will find out more about this later.
This is a Barn Owl and if you have a barn with mice/rodents it will eat them for you. Plus it eats insects, bats and reptiles in general.
Author: Kevin - ©2013
© 2013 The Examiner-1