Birdwatching
Overview
 
Birdwatching or birding is the observation of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars
Binoculars
Binoculars, field glasses or binocular telescopes are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes when viewing distant objects...

 and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more readily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity mainly for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists
Ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

, who engage in the study of birds using more formal scientific methods.
The term birdwatching was first used in 1901; bird was introduced as a verb in 1918.
Encyclopedia
Birdwatching or birding is the observation of bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars
Binoculars
Binoculars, field glasses or binocular telescopes are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes when viewing distant objects...

 and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more readily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity mainly for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists
Ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

, who engage in the study of birds using more formal scientific methods.

Birding, birdwatching, and twitching

The term birdwatching was first used in 1901; bird was introduced as a verb in 1918. The term birding was also used for the practice of fowling or hunting with firearms as in Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. It features the fat knight Sir John Falstaff, and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life...

(1602): "She laments sir... her husband goes this morning a-birding." The terms birding and birdwatching are today used by some interchangeably, although many participants prefer birding, both because it does not exclude the auditory
Hearing (sense)
Hearing is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations through an organ such as the ear. It is one of the traditional five senses...

 aspects of enjoying birds, and because it does not have some associated negative connotations.

In the North America, many birders differentiate themselves from birdwatchers, and the term birder is unknown to most lay people. At the most basic level, the distinction is one of dedication or intensity. Generally, self-described birders are more versed in minutiae like identification (aural and visual), molt, distribution, migration timing, and habitat usage. Whereas dedicated birders often travel specifically in search of birds, birdwatchers have a more limited scope, perhaps not venturing far from their own yards or local parks to view birds.

Twitching is a British term used to mean "the pursuit of a previously-located rare bird." In North America it is more often called "chasing", though the British usage is starting to catch on there, especially among younger birders. The term twitcher is sometimes misapplied as a synonym for birder, is reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or checked off, on a list. The term originated in the 1950s, when it was used to describe the nervous behaviour of Howard Medhurst, a British birdwatcher. Prior terms for those who chased rarities were pot-hunter, tally-hunter, or tick-hunter. The main goal of twitching is often to accumulate species on one's lists. Some birders engage in competition to accumulate the longest species list. The act of the pursuit itself is referred to as a twitch or a chase. A rare bird that stays put long enough for people to see it is twitchable or chaseable.

Twitching is highly developed in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The size of these countries makes it possible to travel throughout them quickly and with relative ease. The most popular twitches in the UK have drawn large crowds; for example, a group of approximately 2,500 people travelled to Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, to view a Golden-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
The Golden-winged Warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera, is a New World warbler, 11.6 cm long and weighing 8.5 g. It breeds in eastern North America, southeastern Canada and the eastern USA...

. Twitchers have developed their own vocabulary
Twitchers' vocabulary
Twitchers' vocabulary is the set of jargon words used by twitchers. Twitchers are committed bird-watchers who travel long distances to see a new species just to add a species their "lifelist", "year list" or other lists...

. For example, a twitcher who fails to see a rare bird has dipped out; if other twitchers do see the bird, he may feel gripped off. Suppression is the act of concealing news of a rare bird from other twitchers.

The history of birdwatching

The early interest in observing birds for their aesthetic rather than utilitarian (mainly food) value is traced to the late-18th century in the works of Gilbert White
Gilbert White
Gilbert White FRS was a pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist.-Life:White was born in his grandfather's vicarage at Selborne in Hampshire. He was educated at the Holy Ghost School and by a private tutor in Basingstoke before going to Oriel College, Oxford...

, Thomas Bewick
Thomas Bewick
Thomas Bewick was an English wood engraver and ornithologist.- Early life and apprenticeship :Bewick was born at Cherryburn House in the village of Mickley, in the parish of Ovingham, Northumberland, England, near Newcastle upon Tyne on 12 August 1753...

, George Montagu and John Clare
John Clare
John Clare was an English poet, born the son of a farm labourer who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be among...

. Although the study of birds and natural history became fashionable in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the Victorian Era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

, it was mainly collection
Bird collections
Bird collections are curated repositories of scientific specimens consisting of birds and their parts. They are a research resource for ornithology, the science of birds, and for other scientific disciplines in which information about birds is useful...

 oriented with eggs and later skins being the artifacts of interest. Wealthy collectors made use of their contacts in the colonies
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 to obtain specimens from around the world. It was only in the late 19th century that the call for bird protection began leading to the rising popularity of observations on living birds. The Audubon Society was started to protect birds from the growing trade in feathers in the United States while the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...

 began in Britain. The term "birdwatching" appeared for the first time as the title of a book "Bird Watching" by Edmund Selous
Edmund Selous
Edmund Selous was a British ornithologist and writer. He was the younger brother of big-game hunter Frederick Selous.Selous was a strong proponent of non-destructive bird-study as opposed to the collection of skins and eggs...

 in 1901. In North America, the identification of birds, once thought possible only by shooting was made possible by the emergence of optics and field identification guides. The earliest field guide in the US was Birds through an Opera Glass (1889) by Florence Bailey
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey was an American ornithologist and nature writer. She was born in Locust Grove, New York. The third child in her family, she was the younger sister of Clinton Hart Merriam.-Life and work:...

. Birding in North America was focused in the early and mid-20th century in the eastern seaboard region, and was influenced by the works of Ludlow Griscom
Ludlow Griscom
Ludlow Griscom was an American ornithologist known as a pioneer in field ornithology.-Biography:Griscom was born in New York City, the son of Clement Acton Griscom and Genevieve Sprigg Ludlow. He was a protege of Frank Chapman, later working for Thomas Barbour at Harvard University's Museum of...

 and later Roger Tory Peterson
Roger Tory Peterson
Roger Tory Peterson , was an American naturalist, ornithologist, artist, and educator, and held to be one of the founding inspirations for the 20th century environmental movement.-Background:...

.

The organization and networking of those interested in birds began through organizations like the Audubon Society that was against the killing of birds and the American Ornithologists' Union
American Ornithologists' Union
The American Ornithologists' Union is an ornithological organization in the USA. Unlike the National Audubon Society, its members are primarily professional ornithologists rather than amateur birders...

 (AOU). The rising popularity of the car increased the mobility of birdwatchers and this made new locations accessible to those interested in birds. Networks of birdwatchers in the UK began to form in the late 1930s under the British Trust for Ornithology
British Trust for Ornithology
The British Trust for Ornithology is an organisation founded in 1932 for the study of birds in the British Isles.-Activities:The BTO carries out research into the lives of birds, chiefly by conducting population and breeding surveys and by bird ringing, largely carried out by a large number of...

 (BTO). The BTO saw the potential to produce scientific results through the networks, unlike the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which like the Audubon Society originated from the bird protection movement. Like the AOU in North America, the BOU had a focus mainly in collection based taxonomy. The BOU changed focus to ecology and behaviour only in the 1940s. The BTO movement towards 'organized birdwatching', was opposed by the RSPB which claimed that the 'scientification' of the pastime was 'undesirable'. This stand was to change only in 1936 when the RSPB was taken over by Tom Harrisson
Tom Harrisson
Major Tom Harnett Harrisson DSO OBE was a British polymath. In the course of his life he was an ornithologist, explorer, journalist, broadcaster, soldier, guerrilla, ethnologist, museum curator, archaeologist, documentarian, film-maker, conservationist, and writer...

 and others. Harrisson was instrumental in the organization of pioneering surveys of the Great Crested Grebe.

Increased mobility of birdwatchers ensured that books like Where to watch birds by John Gooders
John Gooders
John Gooders was a writer who first came to prominence with his first book Where to Watch Birds. At the time he was a teacher, and a lecturer at the Avery Hill teacher training college.-Television Biography:...

 became best-sellers. By the 1960s air-travel became feasible and long distance holiday destinations opened up and by 1965, Britain's first birding tour company, Ornitholidays was started by Lawrence Holloway. Travelling far away also led to problems in name usage, British birds like "Wheatear", "Heron" and "Swallow" needed adjectives to differentiate them in places where there were several related species. The falling cost of air-travel made flying to remote birding destinations a possibility for a large number of people towards the 1980s. The need for global guides to birds became more relevant and one of the biggest projects that began was the "Handbook of the Birds of the World" which started in the 1990s with Josep del Hoyo a country doctor in Catalonia, Jordi Sargatal and ornithologist Andy Elliott.

Initially, birdwatching was a hobby practised in developed countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, since the second half of the 20th century an increasing number of people in developing countries have engaged in this activity. Transnational birding has played an important role in this, as citizens from developing countries that engage in birdwatching usually develop this pastime due to influence of foreign cultures that already practise birding.

Growth and economics



In the 20th century most of the birding activity in North America was done on the east coast. The publication of Roger Tory Peterson's field guide in 1934 led to the initial increase in birding. Binoculars became more easily available after World War II, which made this easier. The practice of travelling long distances to see rare bird species was aided by the rising popularity of cars.

The 2000 publication of "The Sibley Guide to Birds" sold 500,000 copies by 2002. but it was found that the number of birdwatchers rose but there appeared to be a drop in birdwatching in the backyard.

About 4% of North Americans were interested in birding In the 1970s and in the mid 1980s at least 11% were found to watch birds at least 20 days of the year. An estimate of 61 million birders was made in the late 1980s. The income level of birders has been found to be well above average.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study, birdwatchers contributed with 36 billion USD to the US economy 2006, and one fifth (20%) of all Americans are identified as birdwatchers.

North American birders were estimated to have spent as much as USD 32 billion in 2001. The spending is on the rise around the world. Kuşcenneti National Park (KNP) at Lake Manyas, a Ramsar site in Turkey was estimated to attract birders who spent as much as 103,320,074 USD annually. Guided bird tours have become a major business with at least 127 companies offering tours worldwide. An average trip to a less-developed country costs $4000 per person and includes about 12 participants for each of 150 trips a year. It has been suggested that this economic potential needs to be tapped for conservation.

Activities

Most birdwatchers will keep an eye on birds around them at all times but will make specific trips to observe birds fulltime. The most active times of the year for birding in temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 zones are during the spring or fall migrations
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 when the greatest variety of birds may be seen. On these occasions, large numbers of birds travel north or south to wintering or nesting locations. Early mornings are typically better as the birds are more active and vocal making them easier to spot.

Certain locations such as the local patch of forest, wetland and coast may be favoured according to the location and season. Seawatching
Seawatching
Seawatching is a type of birdwatching where participants observe birds at sea.They may do this from a coastal location, usually a headland, looking out to sea, or from a boat or ship....

 is a type of birdwatching where observers based at a coastal watch point, such as a headland, watch birds flying over the sea. This is one form of pelagic birding, by which pelagic bird species are viewed. Another way birdwatchers view pelagic species is from seagoing vessels.

Weather plays an important role in the occurrence of rare birds. In Britain, suitable wind conditions may lead to drift migration, and an influx of birds from the east. In North America, birds caught in the tail-end of a hurricane may be blown inland.

Monitoring

Birdwatchers may take part in censuses of bird populations and migratory patterns which are sometimes specific to individual species. These birdwatchers may also count all birds in a given area, as in the Christmas Bird Count
Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the early Northern-hemisphere winter by volunteer birders...

 or follow carefully designed study protocols. This kind of citizen science
Citizen science
Citizen science is a term used for the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis...

 can assist in identifying environmental threats to the well-being of birds or, conversely, in assessing outcomes of environmental management initiatives intended to ensure the survival of at-risk species or encourage the breeding of species for aesthetic or ecological reasons. This more scientific side of the hobby is an aspect of ornithology, coordinated in the UK by the British Trust for Ornithology
British Trust for Ornithology
The British Trust for Ornithology is an organisation founded in 1932 for the study of birds in the British Isles.-Activities:The BTO carries out research into the lives of birds, chiefly by conducting population and breeding surveys and by bird ringing, largely carried out by a large number of...

. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology hosts many citizen-science projects to track the number and distribution of bird species across North America. These surveys help scientists note major changes from year to year which may occur as a result of climate change, disease, predation, and other factors.

Environmental Education

Due to their accessibility and ubiquity, birds are a useful tool for environmental education
Environmental education
Environmental education refers to organized efforts to teach about how natural environments function and, particularly, how human beings can manage their behavior and ecosystems in order to live sustainably. The term is often used to imply education within the school system, from primary to...

 and awareness on environmental issues. Birds easily transmit values on respect to nature and the fragility of ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s.

Competition

Birding as a competitive event is organized in some parts of the world. These are found to be more exciting by some. These competitions encourage individuals or teams to accumulate large numbers of species within a specified time or area with special rules. Some birdwatchers will also compete by attempting to increase their life list, national list, state list, provincial list, county list, or year list
Big year
A Big Year is an informal competition among birders to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area. A Big Year may be done within a single US state, a Canadian province, within the lower 48 continental U.S....

. There have however been criticisms of such events especially when they are claimed to aid conservation when they may actually mask serious environmental issues. The American Birding Association
American Birding Association
The American Birding Association is a non-profit organization of people interested in birding. Begun in 1968, the ABA is the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. Membership is open to all...

 was originally started as a club for "listers", but it now serves a much broader audience. Still, the ABA continues to publish an official annual report of North American list standings.

Competitive birdwatching events include:
  • Big Day: teams have 24 hours to identify as many species as possible.
  • Big Year
    Big year
    A Big Year is an informal competition among birders to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area. A Big Year may be done within a single US state, a Canadian province, within the lower 48 continental U.S....

    : like a big day, but contestants are individuals, and need to be prepared to invest a great deal of time and money.
  • Big Sit or Big Stay: birdwatchers must see birds from a circle of prescribed diameter (e.g.: 17-foot). Once birds are spotted, birdwatchers can leave the circle to confirm the identity, but new birds seen may not be counted.

Networking and organization

Prominent national and continental organizations concerned with birding include the British Trust for Ornithology
British Trust for Ornithology
The British Trust for Ornithology is an organisation founded in 1932 for the study of birds in the British Isles.-Activities:The BTO carries out research into the lives of birds, chiefly by conducting population and breeding surveys and by bird ringing, largely carried out by a large number of...

 and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...

 in the United Kingdom, and the American Birding Association
American Birding Association
The American Birding Association is a non-profit organization of people interested in birding. Begun in 1968, the ABA is the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. Membership is open to all...

 and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in North America. Many state-wide or local Audubon organizations are also quite active in the United States, as are many provincial and local organizations in Canada. BirdLife International
BirdLife International
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources...

 is an important global alliance of bird conservation organizations. Many countries and smaller regions (states/provinces) have "rarities committees" to check, accept or reject reports of rare birds made by birders.

Equipment and technology

Equipment commonly used for birding includes binoculars
Binoculars
Binoculars, field glasses or binocular telescopes are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes when viewing distant objects...

, a spotting scope
Spotting scope
A spotting scope is a small portable telescope with added optics to present an erect image, optimized for the observation of terrestrial objects...

 with tripod
Tripod (photography)
In photography, a tripod is used to stabilize and elevate a camera, or to support flashes or other photographic equipment. All photographic tripods have three legs and a mounting head to couple with a camera...

, a notepad, and one or more field guide
Field guide
A field guide is a book designed to help the reader identify wildlife or other objects of natural occurrence . It is generally designed to be brought into the 'field' or local area where such objects exist to help distinguish between similar objects...

s. Hides or observation towers are often used to conceal the observers from birds, and/or to improve viewing conditions. Over the years optics manufacturers have learned that birding binoculars sell, and virtually all have specific binoculars for just that. Some have even geared their whole brand to birders.

Sound equipment

Recognition of bird vocalizations is an important part of a birder's toolkit. Sound information can assist in the locating, watching, identification and sexing of birds. Recent developments in audio technology have seen recording and reproduction devices shrink in both size and price, making them accessible to a greater portion of the birding community. The non-linear nature of digital audio technology has also made selecting and accessing the required recordings much more flexible than tape-based models. It is now possible to take a recording of every birdcall you are likely to encounter in a given area out into the field stored on a device that will slip into your pocket, and to retrieve calls for playback and comparison in any order you choose.

Photography

Photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

 has always been a part of birding, but in the past the cost of cameras with super-telephoto lenses made this a minority, often semi-professional, interest. The advent of affordable digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, which can be used in conjunction with a spotting scope or binoculars (using the technique of afocal photography
Afocal photography
Afocal photography, also called afocal imaging or afocal projection is a method of photography where the camera with its lens attached is mounted over the eyepiece of another image forming system such as a optical telescope or optical microscope, with the camera lens taking the place of the human...

, referred to by the neologism "digiscoping
Digiscoping
Digiscoping is a neologism for the activity of using a digital camera to record distant images by coupling it with an optical telescope. The term usually refers to using either a digital single-lens reflex camera with lens attached or, more often, a fixed lens point and shoot digital camera to...

" or sometimes digibinning for binoculars), have made this a much more widespread aspect of the hobby.

Videography

As with the arrival of affordable digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, the development of more compact and affordable digital video cameras
Camcorder
A camcorder is an electronic device that combines a video camera and a video recorder into one unit. Equipment manufacturers do not seem to have strict guidelines for the term usage...

 has made them more attractive and accessible to the birding community. Cross-over, non-linear digital models now exist that take high quality stills at acceptable resolutions, as well as being able to record and play audio and video. The ability to easily capture and reproduce not only the visual characteristics of a bird, but also its patterns of movement and its sound, has wide applications for birders in the field.

Portable media players

This class of product includes devices that can play (some can also record) a range of digital media, typically video, audio and still image files. Many modern digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, mobile phone
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

s, and camcorder
Camcorder
A camcorder is an electronic device that combines a video camera and a video recorder into one unit. Equipment manufacturers do not seem to have strict guidelines for the term usage...

s can be classified as portable media player
Portable media player
A portable media player or digital audio player, is a consumer electronics device that is capable of storing and playing digital media such as audio, images, video, documents, etc. the data is typically stored on a hard drive, microdrive, or flash memory. In contrast, analog portable audio...

s. With the ability to store and play large quantities of information, pocket-sized devices allow a full birding multimedia library to be taken into the field and mobile Internet access makes obtaining and transmitting information possible in near real time.

Remote birdwatching

New technologies are allowing birdwatching activities to take place over the Internet, using robotic camera installations and mobile phones set up in remote wildlife areas. Projects such as CONE http://cone.berkeley.edu allow users to observe and photograph birds over the web; similarly, robotic cameras set up in largely inhospitable areas are being used to attempt the first photographs of the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Ivory-billed Woodpecker
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is or was one of the largest woodpeckers in the world, at roughly 20 inches in length and 30 inches in wingspan. It was native to the virgin forests of the southeastern United States...

. These systems represent new technologies in the birdwatcher's toolkit.

Communication

In the early 1950s the only way of communicating new bird sighting was through the postal system and it was generally too late for the recipients to act on the information. In 1953 James Ferguson-Lees began broadcasting rare bird news on the radio in Eric Simms' Countryside program but this did not catch on. In the 1960s people began using the telephone and some people became hubs for communication. In the 1970s some cafes, like the one in Cley, Norfolk run by Nancy Gull became centers for meeting and communication. This was replaced by telephone hotline services like "Birdline" and "Bird Information Service".

With the advent of the World-Wide Web, birders have been using the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 to convey information; this can be via mailing lists, forums
Internet forum
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived...

, bulletin-boards, web-based database
Database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

s and other media. While most birding lists are geographic in scope, there are special-interest lists that cater to bird-identification, 'twitchers', seabirds and raptor enthusiasts to name but a few. Messages can range from the serious to trivial, notifying others of rarities, questioning the taxonomy or identification of a species, discussing field guides and other resources, asking for advice and guidance, or organizing groups to help save habitats. Occasional postings are mentioned in academic journals and therefore can be a valuable resource for professional and amateur birders alike. One of the oldest, Birdchat (based in the US) probably has the most subscribers, followed by the English-language fork of Eurobirdnet, Birding-Aus from Australia, SABirdnet from South Africa and Orientalbirding.

Several websites allow users to submit lists of birds seen, while others collate and produce seasonal statistics, distribution maps.

Code of conduct

As the numbers of birdwatchers increases, there is growing concern about the impact of birdwatching on the birds and their habitat. Birdwatching etiquette is evolving in response to this concern. Some examples of birdwatching etiquette include promoting the welfare of birds and their environment; avoiding stressing the birds by limiting use of photography, pish
Pish
A pish is an imitated bird call used by birders and ornithologists to attract birds . The action of making the sound is known as pishing...

ing and playback devices; keeping back from nests and nesting colonies; and respecting private property. The lack of definite evidence, except arguably in the form of photographs makes birding records very difficult to prove but birdwatchers strive to build trust in their identification. One of the few major disputes is the case of the Hastings Rarities
Hastings Rarities
The Hastings Rarities affair is a case of putative ornithological fraud. Two articles in the August 1962 issue of the journal British Birds, one a statistical examination by John Nelder, the other an editorial by Max Nicholson and James Ferguson-Lees, made a case for several records of birds...

.

Socio-psychology

Ethologist
Ethology
Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology....

 Nikolaas Tinbergen
Nikolaas Tinbergen
Nikolaas "Niko" Tinbergen was a Dutch ethologist and ornithologist who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Karl von Frisch and Konrad Lorenz for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns in animals.In the 1960s he...

 considers birdwatching to be an expression of the male hunting instinct while Simon Baron-Cohen
Simon Baron-Cohen
Simon Baron-Cohen FBA is professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He is the Director of the University's Autism Research Centre, and a Fellow of Trinity College...

 links it with the male tendency for "systemizing". There have been suggestion that identification of birds may be a form of gaining status which has been compared with Kula valuables
Kula ring
Kula, also known as the kula exchange or kula ring, is a ceremonial exchange system conducted in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea.The Kula ring spans 18 island communities of the Massim archipelago, including the Trobriand Islands...

noted in Papua New Guinean cultures. In a study of the motivations for birdwatching in New York, it was found that males were interested in sharing knowledge while females found it intellectual and challenging. A study suggests that males leaned towards competitive birding while females preferred recreational birdwatching. While the representation of women has always been low, it has been pointed out that nearly 90% of all birdwatchers in the United States are Caucasians with only a few African Americans.

Other minority groups have formed organizations to support fellow birders and these include the Gay birders and the Disabled Birders Association.

The study of birdwatching has been of interest to students of the sociology of science.

Famous birdwatchers

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 trying to see all the bird species of the world. The first person who started this is said to be Stuart Keith
Stuart Keith
George Stuart Keith was an English ornithologist. He was a founder and first president of the American Birding Association, and a coeditor of The Birds of Africa series.-References:*...

. Some birders have been known to go to great lengths and many have lost their lives in the process. Phoebe Snetsinger
Phoebe Snetsinger
Phoebe Snetsinger, née Burnett , a resident of Webster Groves, Missouri, was a birder famous for having seen over 8,400 species by the time of her death. The daughter of advertising magnate Leo Burnett, she inherited a small fortune, which she used to fund numerous trips in pursuit of her hobby...

 spent her family inheritance travelling to various parts of the world while suffering from a malignant melanoma, surviving an attack and rape in New Guinea before dying in a road accident in Madagascar. She saw as many as 8,400 species. The birdwatcher David Hunt
David Hunt (ornithologist)
David Bassil Hunt was a British ornithologist who will be remembered as "..the man who brought Scilly wildlife into the lives of thousands of people over a period of 20 years" and for the tragic cause of his death as the first "westerner" to be killed by a tiger for many decades.Brought up on the...

 who was leading a bird tour in Corbett National Park was killed by a tiger in February 1985. In 1971 Ted Parker
Theodore A. Parker III
Theodore A. "Ted" Parker III was an American ornithologist who specialized in the Neotropics. He "was widely considered the finest field birder / ornithologist that the world had ever seen." .-Biography:...

 travelled around North America and saw 626 species in a year. This record was beaten by Kenn Kaufman
Kenn Kaufman
Kenn Kaufman is an American author, artist, naturalist, and conservationist, known for his work on several popular field guides of birds and butterflies in North America....

 in 1973 who travelled 69,000 miles and saw 671 species and spent less than a thousand dollars. Ted Parker was killed in an air-crash in Ecuador. From 2008 the top life-list has been held by Tom Gullick, an Englishman who lives in Spain and who has logged over 8,800 species. In 2008 two British birders, Alan Davies and Ruth Miller, gave up their jobs, sold their home and put everything they owned into a year-long global birdwatching adventure about which they a wrote a book called "The Biggest Twitch". They logged 4431 species on 31 October 2008.

Birdwatching literature, field guides and television programs have been popularized by birders like Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne is an American author, famous for his writings on natural history and birding. He is also the founder of the World Series of Birding, as well as the current director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, Vice President of Natural History for the New Jersey Audubon Society, and publisher of...

 and Bill Oddie
Bill Oddie
William "Bill" Edgar Oddie OBE is an English author, actor, comedian, artist, naturalist and musician, who became famous as one of The Goodies....

.

In media

The 2011 movie, The Big Year
The Big Year
The Big Year is a 2011 comedy film starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Dianne Wiest, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy, Rosamund Pike and Tim Blake Nelson. The Big Year was directed by David Frankel and written by Howard Franklin...

, depicts three birders competing in an ABA
American Birding Association
The American Birding Association is a non-profit organization of people interested in birding. Begun in 1968, the ABA is the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. Membership is open to all...

 Area big year
Big year
A Big Year is an informal competition among birders to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area. A Big Year may be done within a single US state, a Canadian province, within the lower 48 continental U.S....

.

See also

  • American Birding Association
    American Birding Association
    The American Birding Association is a non-profit organization of people interested in birding. Begun in 1968, the ABA is the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. Membership is open to all...

  • Bird feeding
  • Bird hide
    Bird hide
    A bird hide is a shelter, often camouflaged, that is used to observe wildlife, especially birds, at close quarters. Although hides were once built chiefly as hunting aids, they are now commonly found in parks and wetlands for the use of bird watchers, ornithologists and other observers who do not...

  • Bird migration
    Bird migration
    Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

  • Butterfly watching
    Butterfly watching
    Butterfly watching is a hobby concerned with the observation and study of butterflies. It also includes "catch and release" of butterflies...

  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Important Bird Area
    Important Bird Area
    An Important Bird Area is an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of bird populations. Currently there are about 10,000 IBAs worldwide. The program was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife International...

  • List of birding books
  • List of ornithology journals
  • National Audubon Society
    National Audubon Society
    The National Audubon Society is an American non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation. Incorporated in 1905, Audubon is one of the oldest of such organizations in the world and uses science, education and grassroots advocacy to advance its conservation mission...

  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
    Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
    Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...

  • World Series of Birding
    World Series of Birding
    The World Series of Birding is perhaps the world's most famous birding competition. Participants try to identify the greatest number of bird species throughout the state of New Jersey, USA over a 24-hour period on a Saturday in mid-May. The event is also run as a fundraiser for bird conservation,...


Books

  • Cocker, Mark (2002) Birders:Tales of a tribe. Grove Press. ISBN 0871138441
  • Moss, Stephen (2004) A Bird in the Bush: A social history of birdwatching. Aurum Press. ISBN 1854109936
  • Weidensaul, Scott (2007) Of a Feather: A Brief History of Birding. Harcourt, Orlando.

External links

History
A six-part History of Birding Magazine, covering the period 1968-2006, appeared in Birding
Birding (magazine)
Birding is the bimonthly members' magazine of the American Birding Association. While not a formal journal, Birding offers enthusiasts in-depth and scholarly articles on field identification and bird conservation. Each issue also features tips on North American and foreign birdfinding, news in the...

magazine in 2006. This six-part history was broken down as follows:
General
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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