- Education and Science»
- Geography, Nature & Weather
Twitcher's Get The Bird
In Bird watching lingo, a twitcher is a term applied to those who travel long distances to see a rare bird.
Birdwatching, or birding, is the fastest-growing outdoor activity in America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Their numbers have risen to over 51 million.
At first, birdwatching was a hobby generally only practiced in developed countries. However, since the 1950’s an increasing number of people in other countries have joined in the activity.
Birdwatching, or birding, is the observation and study of birds. Birding involves sight and hearing as many birds are more readily identified by ear than by eye.
Who Watches Birds?
Who watches birds? People of all ages do. Birding is something anyone can do in their own back yard. The study of birds is called ornithology and amateur birders often make valuable contributions to the scientific community. Today, much of what ornithology knows about birds has come from ordinary birders.
There are about 10,000 species of bird and only a small number of people have seen more than 7000. Many birdwatchers have spent their entire lives and sometimes their life savings trying to see all the bird species of the world.
Beauty And Flight
Birds have always fascinated people because of their beauty and ability of flight. In ancient times Romans even believed the flights and certain bird calls could predict the future.
Birdwatchers observe wild birds in their natural habitat and learn to identify them and understand their behavior. In North America, there are over 800 species of birds and life becomes more interesting once you’re aware they’re all around you. It’s not just learning bird names, but also their songs, behavior, and relationship to nature. It's the perfect way to commune with nature.
The best part is it’s a hobby anyone can join in quite inexpensively. All they need is a pair of binoculars, a field guide, small notebook and a hat. For professional tips on what to have, you might want to visit a site like Diane's Birdwatching Starter Kit. A field guide is a small book crammed with information on birds. It has pictures, and gives details of what to look for.
But birdwatching isn’t all just about fun. Birders may participate in bird population censuses and record migratory patterns specific to individual species. This can provide valuable assistance in identifying environmental threats to birds. In the United States, there are many citizen-science projects tracking bird species across North America. This helps scientists note changes occurring from climate change, disease and other factors.
As the numbers of birdwatchers increases, groups endeavor to avoid stressing the birds by limiting use of photography and playback devices, keeping an acceptable distance from nests and colonies and respecting private property. Birdwatching groups promote the welfare of birds and their environment.
In the early 1950s the only way to communicate a new bird sighting was through the postal system. By the time it reached its recipient it was usually too late to act on the information. But, in the 1960s people began using the telephone and some people became hubs for communication.
Then came the internet and birders began conveying information through mailing lists, bulletin boards and forums. Now there are even friendly international competitions. These competitions prompt individuals or teams to spot and record large numbers of species within a specified time frame and area following special rules.
The organization and networking of those interested in birds began through organizations like the Audubon Society. The Audubon Society began with a mission to protect birds from the growing feather trade in the United States.
Most communities have some type of birdwatching organization. Learning more about birds can help us to plan a better, more balanced relationship with nature. So join a local bird club or go for a walk with a few experienced birders to see what it’s all about.