If you’ve ever watched a flock of birds travel across the sky, you’ve been “birding”. Birding (or birdwatching) is the recreational activity of observing birds and has quickly become a popular hobby for fans both young and old. Not only does birding benefit the birds themselves, but it has many benefits for the birdwatchers as well.
The requirement to participate in birdwatching is simple: just go outside. Whether you’re taking a hike in the woods or just stepping out your backdoor, you can birdwatch almost anywhere! This time of year is an especially favorable time for birdwatching since autumn is peak migration season. This means that you could potentially see unique flocks of birds in your area that typically wouldn’t be found there. August through October are the peak months for migration; however, for some species (like landbirds, waterfowl, and seabirds) migration can continue on into December. Birds are often on the move every day during this season, so the chances of catching a glimpse of them are very good. As the leaves begin to fall, it is also easier to see birds in densely wooded areas.
Birds play a vital role in our environment and are interesting creatures to watch. They help boost tree growth by removing parasites and damaging insects. They also transport seeds and help with pollination by visiting plants and dispersing pollen. You can get to know these little creatures simply by observing their movements and behavior around your home.
As interest in this hobby has grown, so has a general awareness of birds and their needed care. The scientific observations that come from birdwatching have greatly benefited the field of ornithology (the study of birds). In fact, much of what we know about birds today has come from observations made by ordinary birdwatchers (like you!).
The hobby also holds many benefits for the birdwatcher as well. The simple act of getting outside, breathing fresh air, and observing nature is good for you! As you begin to identifying the songs, habits, and behavior of certain birds, you’ll increase your knowledge and also develop a valuable respect for nature and the ecosystem.
In addition to actual birdwatching, you can also get involved by filling bird feeders around your home, keeping bird baths full of water, and planting flowers that attract and feed birds. These activities are all beneficial to birds as they allow them to find food and water without traveling as far. You may even attract a new species to your yard!
If you are an avid birdwatcher or know of someone who is, stop by the Home Energy Store in Ashland, Virginia to pick up some helpful birdwatching equipment and gifts!