For those unfamiliar, bird watching, or “birding” involves watching birds with your naked eye, but aided with devices such as binoculars and telescopes. Some birdwatchers also spot birds by listening for bird calls. Birdwatchers do this for fun, unlike ornithologists who study birds for scientific purposes and using scientific methods.
Some birdwatchers call themselves ‘twitcher’; these are the type of birdwatchers who travel great distances just to see a rare bird that they would then check off their list. The main goal of this kind of birdwatcher is to gather the species on their lists. Some twitchers get into contests to see who has the longest species lists; the contest itself is called “twitch” since it describes the act of pursuing the birds to get ticked off the list. These kinds of competitions are highly developed in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden; since the size of these countries make it easier to navigate them quicker and much easier. Some of the most popular twitches in the UK have crowds of about 5,000 people traveling to Kent, England just to see the golden-winged warbler.
Bird watching tourism has been gaining popularity lately as an environmentally-friendly way of gaining income for operators, local communities as well as whole countries. The ideal time for birding, when in temperate climates, are during the spring or fall migrations when the birds travel north or south to wintering and nesting locations, it is also the time when the greatest variety of birds can be seen. Birders need to be up early, since birds are typically more active and vocal during the early morning, and are therefore easier to spot.
There are birdwatching tours throughout the year and in different countries, depending on the migration pattern of a certain bird. Some of the tours in May include a trip to Arizona to see the spotted owl and the warbler; to Sichuan in China to see the Black-necked Crane and the Rufous-necked snowfish, along with some of China’s native wildlife such as the red panda. The May tour also includes trips to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Italy, Alaska, and the Czech Republic to see birds like the Spotted Eagle, the Ural Owl, Three-toed Woodpecker, and the Common Rosefinch.
If you’re new to birding, or interested in participating in a birdwatcing tour, the good news is that there are plenty of companies offering birdwatching tours from very large ones that accommodate big groups and small ones, as well as a variety of other organizations such as universities, museums and private groups. Birdwatching tours also accommodate any level from beginners to very skilled birdwatchers. There are also different packages available. Some things you may need or want to bring on your first birding tour are a pair of binoculars, cameras and video cameras for capturing the bird on film; portable media players. There is also such a thing as remote bird watching where you can view live videos or pictures of birds over the internet.