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Bird Watching

Many of us love watching the birds that flock to our gardens and show up in our yards.  Birding is the fastest growing wildlife-related activity in the U.S., and even conservative estimates put the current number of U.S. birders at 50 million.  According to the New York Times, some authorities predict that by 2050 there will be more than 100 million. 

Many of us are also willing to transform our gardens from basic human enjoying spaces into areas that will specifically attract birds and thus give us more enjoyment as we are able to listen to them and watch their antics.  But your garden is not the only good place to watch birds.

Where to go:
A good place to observe a wide variety of bird species is at a local park, nature reserve or even a bird sanctuary. There are approximately 500 National Wildlife Sanctuaries in the United States, so there is likely one not too far from you.  To find a current list, check out the Internet and use one of the popular search engines.

Another way to enjoy bird watching is to find out what particular birds live in an area that you will be visiting.  Since there are more than 900 species of American birds, chances are that if you take a trip and travel any reasonable distance, you will have an opportunity to observe a species that you've never seen before.  With a little "before hand" research, you can know what to look for.  Keep notes so you can keep track of each new species that you observe, you might see surprised at how many new ones you will see.

Binoculars are an essential piece of bird watching equipment.  They are a birder's eyes on the world, and they can greatly affect the quality of a bird outing.  Good binoculars make for good birding, while bad binoculars can lead to missed birds and severe headaches induced by blurred images, double vision, and eye strain.  While you donít have to spend hundreds of dollars on an super-duper model, it does pay to have a pair of binoculars that can withstand rough travel and adverse weather conditions.

Binoculars come in many different shapes and forms and carry such descriptions as "roof prism," "close focus," "armor coated," etc. At the outset, you don't need to spend too much time deciphering this verbiage.  If you really get hooked on Bird watching, you can learn more about binoculars later and trade in or purchase a better pair.

In the topic on Bird Watching Binoculars, I'll give you some things to look for when buying binoculars for bird watching

You should do some practicing so you'll be prepared to catch those quick birds in flight.  Not only will you be trying to follow their flight path, but you'll have to focus your binoculars at the same time.  You can practice tracking birds in flight around your home or in a local park.

  1. Set the focus so that an object approximately 30 feet away is clear.  This is a good starting distance from which you can move the focus in and out. 
  2. Next, look for birds with your naked eyes.
  3. Now quickly raise your binoculars up to your eyes without taking your eye off the flying bird and view them with your binoculars.
  4. Then simply follow the bird around for a while, lowering and lifting your binoculars every so often. Don't worry about identifying birds yet. Just watch what they are doing.  Soon, you'll be able to spot and focus in a flash.
  5. Practice adjusting the focus while you follow the bird.

You might only have a few seconds to catch that once in a lifetime glimpse of a rare species, so you want to be ready at a moments notice.

Digital Cameras:
In addition to binoculars, another piece of equipment that would be nice to have is a camera.  For beginners and the hobbyist, a lower priced digital camera is your best bet, (as opposed to a 35mm film camera).  With a digital camera, you can take dozens of pictures, erase the bad one as you go, so you don't waste film, and then upload the pictures to your computer or a digital photo printing kiosk at your local store and then print only the ones you want. 

If you really get hooked on birding and want to invest in a camera that can capture really close up images, then we are talking about high dollar equipment and high magnification lenses, and this is another hobby in itself. 

Check out the various features to look for in a low or moderately priced digital camera at Web Builders Cafe.

Enjoy with others:
Sharing your interest in bird watching with another person makes your adventures even more exciting.  You can discuss the knowledge that you each have about bird watching, share ideas and individual experiences and you can also help each other spot birds that the other might not see.  Plus, if you each have a camera, that doubles your chances of getting an even better shot of each creature.

The reasons for bird watching are numerous, but one of the main reasons is for the relaxation and enjoyment of it.  Also as you observe them, you will learn more about them and this will add more to the pleasure of watching those cute little creatures.

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