What is Bird watching
Bird watching or birding is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds.
Bird watching often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods.
The first recorded use of the term birdwatcher was in 1891; 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’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602): “She laments sir… her husband goes this morning a-birding.” The terms birding and bird watching are today used by some interchangeably, although some participants prefer birding, partly because it does not exclude the auditory aspects of enjoying birds.
In 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 perceived as one of dedication or intensity, though this is a subjective differentiation. Generally, self-described birders perceive themselves to be more versed in minutiae like identification (aural and visual), molt, distribution, migration timing, and habitat usage. Whereas these dedicated birders may often travel specifically in search of birds, birdwatchers have been described by some enthusiasts as having a more limited scope, perhaps not venturing far from their own yards or local parks to view birds. Indeed, in 1969 a Birding Glossary appeared in Birding magazine which gave the following definitions:
Birder. The acceptable term used to describe the person who seriously pursues the hobby of birding. May be professional or amateur.
Birding. A hobby in which individuals enjoy the challenge of bird study, listing, or other general activities involving bird life.
Bird-watcher. A rather ambiguous term used to describe the person who watches birds for any reason at all, and should not be used to refer to the serious birder.
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, 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 counted on a list.