bird watching logo

Bird Watching (Ornithology): The Study and Observation of Birds

When humans observe birds and also study them it is known as bird watching (or birding). The former term is predominately used in the United Kingdom as well as in Ireland, while the term "birding" is an American term. On the whole, bird watching is a pursuit that birdwatchers or birders undertake for recreational or social reasons.

The more formal pursuit of bird watching is known as ornithology that is a formal as well as scientific study of birds, although ornithologists may often use the same methods of watching birds as do the amateur birders. In temperate zones, the most active time of the year for bird watching would be during spring as well as fall when there is bird migration and the most number of birds will be seen. Such birds usually travel North or South to winter or nest in those regions.

Early Morning and a Quiet Relaxing Outdoor Activity

Early in the morning is perhaps the best time to watch birds since at these times, birds may be actively searching for food and would thus be better subjects for observing and studying. One may also require detailed knowledge of the appearance, sounds, behavior as well as the likely habitat of the birds to get success in their search for birds and their habits. One may also require being stealthy as well as patient to achieve the best results. Bird watching is a quiet as well as relaxing pursuit and for those who are rarity-seekers it may entail long distance traveling in order to find new species.

Another form of bird watching is sea-watching where observers are based at coastal watch-points in order to watch birds flying over the sea. Also, bird watchers may also take part in censuses of bird population and associated migratory patterns that are often specific to individual species. There are also bird watching competitions known in North America as the “Big Day” and in Britain as “Bird Race”.

There would be competing teams that spend a whole day in designated geographical areas trying to win and it may involve their having to drive hundreds of miles and some enterprising bird watchers have even made use of private jets as well as helicopters in the pursuit of winning the competition. In the United States, there are many popular bird watching competitions and among them is the World Series of Birding that is held in New Jersey in May. There is also the Great Texas Birding Classic that is held in April.

Alternatively, if you live in or are visiting the United Kingdom, there are excellent opportunities to indulge in bird watching tours and vacations.  For instance, you could go on a “Red Kite Safari” in Wales or watch the seabirds of Northumberland on the borders of England and Scotland.  Further north into Scotland, you will find Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Renfrewshire, which is home to one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds – the hen harrier.  As part of an initiative led by the RSPB, you can view high quality cctv images of the birds while they are nesting during June and July.


Bird Watching Couple birding