The Sport of Bird Watching

Birdwatching, otherwise known as birding is a type of wildlife observation where one observes birds as a recreational activity. One can birdwatch through binoculars, telescopes, the naked eye, listening for the sounds of birds, or even by viewing birds on public webcams. Contrary to popular belief birdwatching frequently incorporates a remarkable amount of auditory components, due to the fact that numerous bird species are more clearly identified and detected by audio rather than visual. Many people pursue birdwatching for social or recreational reasons, dissimilar to ornithologists, who take on the study of birds utilizing proper scientific approaches. The initial documentation using the phrase ‘birdwatcher’ was back in 1891; the verb ‘bird’ was popularized in 1918. Birding is a term also utilized for the sport of hunting with firearms or fowling. Presently, the terms birdwatching and birding are utilized interchangeably, however birding is popularly prefered due to the fact that it encompasses the auditory fragment of bird enjoyment as well as the visual aspect.

North American birders typically differentiate themselves from the utilization of the label ‘birdwatcher’ congruently the term ‘birder’ is also uncommon to most natives. Ordinarily, self proclaimed birders view themselves as more versed in aural/visual identification, distribution, molt, habitat usage, as well as migration timing. These devoted birders will often travel great lengths in search of specific bird breeds, whereas birdwatchers are described as bird enthusiasts with a limited scope only venturing as far as a local park or their very yard to view birds. In the 1969, issue of Birding magazine a birding glossary was printed giving the definitions that follow;

Birder: the proper term utilized in describing one who purposefully pursues the art of birding. Level of experience may be amateur or professional. Bird-watcher: an ambiguous title used to describe an individual who watches birds for no particular reason other than sheer enjoyment. This term should not be utilized in referring to the serious birder.

The Sport of Bird Watching WorldBirder

Birding: A hobby where participants take joy in the challenge of studying, listing, or any other general activity involving birds and their everyday life. Twitching is a specialized British term that refers to ‘the tracking of a previously located very rare bird’. Twitching is oftenly referred to as chasing in North America, however younger birders are beginning to bring back the British utilization of the term twitching. The use of the term twitcher, is occasionally misused as a synonym for the term birder. This assumption is incorrect as the title twitcher is solely reserved for one who travels great distances to view rare birds. The term twitcher was originally introduced in the 1950s as a title to describe the nervous behavior of British birdwatcher, Howard Medhurst. Pot-hunter, tick-hunter, and tally-hunter were all terms used prior to twitcher to describe one who often chased rare bird breeds. Often, the intention of twitching is to accrue the number of species on an individual’s list. Sometimes birders take part in competitions to see who can accumulate the longest species list. The sheer act of pursuing the bird itself is refereed to as a chase or twitch. Rare birds that stay around long enough for the public to view are known as chaseable or twitchable.

The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all have a highly developed twitching community. The massive size of these countries allows birders to travel within them relatively quickly with a fair amount of ease. Groups of twitchers are known as twitches and are beginning to draw large crowds with in the United Kingdom. A group of over two thousand twitches travelled to Kent, England to see a Vermivora Chrysoptera otherwise known as a Golden - Winged Warbler which is usually found in North America. Twitches have even acquired their very own vocabulary. For instance, a twitcher who falls short in seeing a rarity has unfortunately dipped out. Similarly, if other twitchers are successful in seeing this rarity, said birder who missed the opportunity could feel gripped off. Another term in the twitcher vocabulary is suppression, which is the act of hiding news of a rare bird location from fellow twitchers.

Several birdwatchers cultivate a life list. A life list is a list of every species they have ever viewed within their lifetime. It typically details the birds location and date of sighting. If one’s life list is submitted to the ABA or American Birding Association it must be in accordance to their very particular rules on how many bird species may be recorded and documented within their list. Although, the criteria for personal recording of one's life list is highly subjective. A select few birdwatchers list species of birds they have only identified audibly, while many others solely record species they have identified visually. Dedicated birdwatchers may also cultivate year lists, yard lists, county lists, state lists, or even country lists.