Birdwatching was once seen as a hobby that was intended mainly for nerds. In recent years the image of birding has changed and is now a popular pastime that appeals to a wide variety of people. According to US fish and Wildlife, it is now the number 1 sport in America. There are so many tools available for someone who is interested in getting started in birding these days: outstanding optics, a wide selection of field guides, birdjam, e-bird, bird clubs that offer field trips-and the list goes on. Most new birders are impressed by all this but there are some that are intimidated by this modern day version of birding. They just want to go out and see some cool looking birds.
Some beginners are reluctant to go on a field trip because they feel that their birding skills aren't good enough. I've talked to people on field trips that don't become more involved with the birding community because they are concerned they might be expected to take notes, keep lists of species seen, chase rare birds, or enter sightings on e-bird.
If you talk to someone who is really into birding then you might get the impression that there is a specific way to go about birdwatching but the truth is you can watch birds in any manner you please.
There is plenty of information about how to get started with birding-just google something like: How to get started with birding .
Instead of making a how to get started in birding list I decided on this list instead:
10 things a new birder isn't required to do:
1) You don't have to call yourself a birder: Birder and birdwatcher mean basically the same thing. If you go to different places trying to find and identify birds you can use either term or make up your own.
2) You don't have to buy expensive binoculars: It's okay to buy a pair of 7x35 binoculars in a department store-just try them out in the parking lot after you buy them.That way you can return them right away if they don't work for you. Just make sure you don't take them birding in the rain or swim with them since they probably aren't waterproof.
3) You don't need to be good at identifying birds to attend a field trip: There are trips that are specifically offered for beginning birders but many trips in bird clubs are open to anyone. If you're not sure just contact the leader and ask them.
4) You don't need to buy a spotting scope: It isn't necessary to spend additional money to get a spotting scope unless you want to. Binoculars will do the job in most circumstances and other birders will often let you have a look at a bird through their scope.
5) You don't have to force yourself to learn the song of every species of bird: You can start by learning the songs of birds you hear most often and then learn the others when you're ready.
6) You don't have to enter your sightings on e-bird: E-bird is a great tool that a lot of birders are using these days but it's by no means a requirement.
7) You don't need to keep lists of birds you see: Many birders keep lists of birds they see but not all of them do. Keep lists if you want to but you're not in danger of losing your birder's license if you decide not to.
8) You don't have to track down rare birds that have been reported: You may hear about rare birds being reported around the state. Some birders follow reports about these birds and go see them because they want to see them or add them to their list. Some birders chase rare birds frequently, some occasionally, and some not at all.
9) There is no time table to learn how to identify species of birds that you find difficult: If you have difficulty learning to identify certain types of birds like shorebirds or sparrows there's no need to be in a rush. Learn at a pace that's comfortable for you.
10) You don't need to follow my advice by reading this list: My point is that people enjoy watching birds in many different ways. Not everyone is a serious birder that follows a specific sets of rules. Take time to learn about all the great things that birding has to offer and take advantage of the ideas that interest you.
As for me, I appreciate that there is access to so many great resources for birders these days. I may not always take advantage of them but it's nice to know they're available when you need them.
Hurricane Irene is on it's way to Connecticut-let's hope for the best!