Birdwatching, birding, or amateur ornithology can be casual and unexpected enjoyment, as well as an ambitious pursuit to see the most unusual species.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. –Chinese proverb
Ideally, you want quite a long lens to photograph small or distant birds, a fast lens for stop-action shots and/or shooting in low light, and autofocus for tracking birds in flight. Image stabilisation is also useful if you shoot hand-held. A lens with all those features will be both expensive and heavy, but various compromises are possible.
- Notebook or computer
- Sound recording equipment, if you want to record bird songs.
- Telescope and support such as a monopod or tripod (optional, but usually necessary for areas where birds may be far away)
However, none of this equipment is essential if you simply want to observe birds with the naked eye and listen to their songs, and you can always take pictures or videos of birds that are not too timid around humans by using a cell phone.
On the site
The early bird is a well-known idiom. Birds are usually most active at sunrise.
Minimize sound and motions, to avoid disturbing the birds. Most birds see better than people do, and probably see you before you see them.
Many bird sanctuaries are in difficult terrain; wetlands, rocks or shorelines. Be sure to find safe ground, or a safe vessel.
Bird flu, or more formally avian influenza, can infect both birds and mammals. Fewer than a thousand cases have ever been reported in humans, but some of them have been fatal. Most have involved people who work with poultry, but there is also some risk to birdwatchers. The main transmission methods are by contact with dead birds or the wastes of live ones; avoid those and you should be safe. For more information, see the World Health Organization page on the topic.
You can always observe and listen to the birds that live in your home town or wherever you are visiting. Many birds live in urban and semi-urban environments, including some that sing exquisite songs, such as the Eurasian blackbird, which has a wide range that includes the largest cities in Northern Europe and sings for several months of spring and summer, during its mating season. Robins also sing very pretty and varied songs, though not to the degree that Eurasian blackbirds do, and they are common in many US cities including New York City, particularly in parks. And even protected species are not always hard to spot; for example, if you are visiting the coast of California, you are likely to see pelicans and other large sea birds that are not at all reticent to be around people.
Birds such as pigeons and sparrows might prefer cities; however, many people regard them as pests, rather than living attractions.
Migratory birds can often be seen in great numbers where they wait for good weather to cross large bodies of water, or wait out a prolonged winter at higher latitudes. Capes stretching out into the water and wetlands in the vicinity are often good places to look for migrating birds. These places are usually well-known by local birders and not hard to find information on. Sometimes there is infrastructure, such as bird towers.
Quite often, merely a trip to a decent-sized urban park with a lot of foliage is sufficient to observe many migratory birds in season. However, for advanced birders, some of the bird sanctuaries and habitats below can be a special experience.
Reprinted with persmission Wiki Voyage