Why birding could be your next irresistible hobby
Updated: Jan 9
Birdwatching is one of those hobbies that you can deep dive into, or play in the sidelines. A 2016 US national survey cites that there are 45 million birders in the world, that they bring $80 billion to the US economy, and spend $41 million on travel and gear.
Why is it so appealing to look to the skies?
It can be FREE, CHEAP, OR....! : Birding can be as cheap as looking out your kitchen window, or local park, and observing who is out there. Add another layer by putting out bird houses or feeders. Or pick up some binoculars and start searching areas where birds hang out. If you are hard core you can add high powered binoculars and camera lenses and bird touring, guidebooks, and bird counting events. The sky's the limit! (pun intended)
It’s an excuse to get out in nature: Birding is an ultimate version of mindfulness. You are allowed to just be, and observe.
Birding can be a way to meet new people, or travel!: Bird niche groups are literally everywhere, so pick a niche that appeals. There are folks who like to photograph, those who like to travel to experience new sightings, and those who like to feed and/or count local birds. And there are multitudes of bird sanctuaries and habitats all over the world.
Challenge your brain: There is surprisingly a lot to know about birds, their habits and where they live. The more you learn, the more intrigued you will become!
There's an element of discovery and surprise: Despite your best plans you can’t be sure of what you’ll see. It’s like hunting without the blood! To get started, check out any of the multiples of birding websites, or facebook sites, or find a guide for birds in your area. Make sure guidebooks are regionally specific, so you're not looking for birds that never come here. Northern Alberta is the confluence of 5 North American migration routes, making the Peace Country an ideal place to find a lot of different species. One of my favorite sites is the Alberta Birds Facebook Group. When you identify a bird that you see, check out this site to find out more about that species. Finally, if you become a birder you can trade lame bird jokes with other birders, like: "A duck walks into a drug store and buys a chapstick. The clerk says, "Will that be cash or charge?" The duck says, "Just put it on my bill!"