It’s a Robin! Everyone has smiled when a robin has landed on a branch next to you and started singing. This simple reaction can be the start of a lifelong hobby. Birdwatching or birding as it is often referred to can be as involved or as simple as you want it to be.
Searching for wild birds in their natural habitat can take you walking in city parks to hiking in mountains to canoeing down a river. It can be done in any season and once you start birding you will find a drive to be out during spring and fall migrations, out in the summer check for nesting birds and of course participating in Christmas Counts.
This hobby can be as laid back as wandering around following the bird’s song and sharing with everyone who has a pair of binoculars to an addiction as serious as depicted in the movie “The Big Year.” In this movie, Owen Wilson took a count of the birds he sees in one year to new heights. (With Steve Martin and Jack Black also starring in the movie, I know you will enjoy the movie.)
Birdwatching will take you outside regularly. Studies have compared walking on a treadmill versus walking outdoors. The conclusion was participants walking outdoors felt “greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement; decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression; and increased energy after they walked outside.”
Birding can also benefit people with limited mobility. Many parks have handicapped picnic areas and even paved paths that scooters and wheelchairs can navigate. Window-mounted bird feeders can also bring birds close enough to be easily viewed.
As you can probably tell by now, birdwatching is one of my favorite pastimes. I have been birding for 40 years and can still find excitement when I see the first bluebird of the spring and since moving to southern Arizona I watch for the first Turkey Vulture of the year. The vulture is sure sign that spring is on its way.