Friday, March 31, 2006

Birding Basics

I have often heard people comment that they would love to begin birding but just don't know where to start. Little do they realize they probably already have been birding or what some strict birders would call "birdwatching". Most everyone I know birdwatches at least if nothing else. You see a bird or two in your neighborhood and acknowledge them. You hear a birdcall and stop to appreciate it. That alone is birdwatching. Now, birding, is usually defined as the practice of going out with the intention of seeing birds, sometimes specific birds. Our family has done both, more just "birdwatching" in the beginning and then more intense "birding" as we continued along this wonderful journey. There are great benefits to both. Birdwatching is an excellent avenue to get in touch with a wonderful part of God's creation. Josh, who just turned 12, has within this past year (which by the way was his first year of doing this) turned an interest into a passion and brought mom and dad along for the ride. Doesn't matter that he is 12. Shoot! He passed his dad and I in the ability department longgg ago lol. He has met many adults, through being out and about and birding and through specific Audubon field trips, that are blown away by him. I just shrug and laugh. I don't think he could deny this new passion if he wanted to. Birding has become a part of him. When we started all of this none of us knew much. We all learned as we went along, some of us like Josh, faster than the others, ie his dad and mom :)

To get started you don't have to go farther than your own back or front yard. Look. Pay attention. ALL of us have birds where we live even here in the desert of Las Vegas! (That was something I wasn't so sure of when we thought of moving here. Boy was I wrong!)

If you feel a need to do more; get a few feeders, put out some water for the birds (nothing fancy is required, a bowl will do).

If you are still feeling an itch that isn't enough: borrow a field guide from your library or buy one at the local bookstore (Josh now has 6 different ones), get a pair of binoculars (cheap ones can be found at the pawn shop or local KMart or such), begin keeping a list of what you see (again simplicity is OK - a homemade notebook will do fine). Don't worry about making identification mistakes. The most experienced birder friend we know and a fantastic lady told Josh that even the best make mistakes as we learn ALL the time. No one knows everything.
I guarantee you if you have gotten to this point you have probably been bitten by the bug or should I say "bird". :) Enjoy!


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