yellow wattled lapwng
Blood Pheasent
Birds at Chitwan

Birding and birdwatching—what’s the different?

Birding and birdwatching mean the same thing. The activity of observing wild birds. (Birds in cages or any form of captivity don’t count.)

What do people do when they go birdwatching?

Birdwatchers observe wild birds in their natural habitat. Birdwatching means learning to identify the birds and understand what they are doing. In Nepal, there are over 871 species of birds. Wherever you live, you’ll probably find at least 100 species that are easy to find in your area. Life suddenly gets more interesting when you become aware of the varied bird life all around you.

Where do you watch birds?

Birding is something you can do in your own back yard (it’s a natural habitat too). Your local parks. Anywhere you travel. Or on trips you take specifically to see birds that live in a certain environment; Kathmandu Valley (Shivapuri watershed and wildlife reserve, Nagarkot hill, Phulchoki, Sankhu, Toudaha, Godawari botanical garden etc ) , Chitwan, Bardia, Pokhara, Koshi Tappu, Rara Lake, Annapurna Region and Langtang region.

Who watches birds?

People of all ages watch birds. It’s an activity you can keep doing all your life, in any part of the world. Birding is the fastest-growing outdoor activity in Nepal.

How can I learn more about birdwatching?

  • - Join a local bird club and go for a walk with other birdwatchers.
  • - Subscribe to a magazine devoted to birdwatching.
  • - Order some DVDs or videos on birdwatching. But don’t spend too much time watching the TV -screen! Get outside and look at the actual birds.
  • - By all means, get your hands on a good bird book (also known as a field guide). Or get two or three. Each one gives you something none of the others has.
  • - Most important, start noticing the birds around you.

Why birds?

  • - Birds have always delighted people all over the world because of their beauty and their power of flight.
  • - Historically, they used to be considered omens. The ancient Romans believed that the flights and calls of birds could foretell the future.
  • - Today, modern science still uses birds as a kind of oracle. Changes in bird populations can reflect the health of the environment.
  • - Some birds are indicator species, like the bald eagle. They forecast environmental conditions. The knowledge of birds can help us plan a better, more sustainable relationship with nature.

What’s in it for me if I start birding?

  • - Fun. Big fun. Something deep seems to get fulfilled. A connection is made with the immense beauty of nature.
  • - Satisfaction. Birding invokes our primeval hunting instincts. It delivers all the satisfaction of the hunt, even though the prey itself escapes unharmed. Birding is the perfect sport for the 21st Century.
  • - Health. Birding gets you vertical. It gets you outside and walking. But it’s effortless, because your attention is on the birds. Nevertheless, after a little birding, you’ve usually covered quite a bit of ground.
  • - Family. Birding unites people across generations. By taking up birding, parents or grandparents can introduce their children to an interest in nature that will stay with them all their lives.
  • - Companionship. Birding is the ideal social activity. A birder need never be lonely. Nearly every community has a birding club of some sort. And because birders love to share their knowledge, newcomers are always welcome.
  • - Solitude. Birding is also the ideal solitary sport. There’s a special pleasure in going out alone to bird. Your mind settles down. Your senses open up, and all nature seems to become your friend. Birding is a sport of many moods, and it serves the causes of companionship and solitude equally well.

Does birding matter to science?

Birding also fulfills another basic instinct—the quest for knowledge. Birding is about acquiring knowledge. Not just about birds’ names, but also about their songs, their behavior, and how they relate to the rest of nature. It’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy a unique human pleasure—the successful exercise of lore.

In fact, amateur birders often get to make real contributions to scientific knowledge. Today, much of what ornithology knows about birds has come from the observations of ordinary but dedicated birders.

What do I need to start birding?

Not much. A pair of binoculars, a book, camera, sunhat, sun lotion, insect repellent, personal medicine, flashlight, natural coloured clothes with long sleeves shirts and trousers. Maybe a little notebook you carry in your pocket.

What kind of binoculars do I need?

Any binoculars are better than none. You can start with whatever you have.

Can I share binoculars with a friend?

You can. But every birder really needs his or her own binocular. Sharing means one person doesn’t get to see the bird before it flies away. This is hard on friendships.

A hat?

Any old hat will do. Birding is not a fashion contest. But the hat should shade your eyes and not interfere with using your binoculars.

A birding vest is useful, too. You can put your binoculars, your field guide, your pen and notebook, and perhaps some insect repellent in the pockets. Hang the vest near the door, and you’ll be ready to grab it and have everything you need for birdwatching at a moment’s notice.

Anything else?

Yes. Birding is a quest. You set out to see birds – but the prize you come back with can only be described as happiness. Learning to bird is like getting a lifetime ticket to the theater of nature.

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