Birdwatching bliss: my fascination with birds and bird songs

For a while, I have been watching birds in my backyard. I don’t know what it is about birds that fascinates me. Maybe it’s the sounds they make or maybe it’s their natural beauty. Whatever it is I am drawn to them. This curiosity about birds led me to delve deeper into what this birdwatching lark is all about.

Birding vs birdwatching

It seems that ‘bird watching’, and ‘birding’ are different. A person that is into birding would look for birds throughout their life and study birds in detail. Tracking their movements and behavioural patterns using binoculars, a field guide, and a notebook. A birder would go so far as to brave the elements to see, count, and record birds.

While a birdwatcher is more casual and in the moment. Birdwatching is to find wild birds and watch how they behave in their natural habitat as recreation or citizen science. Based on these definitions I am a birdwatcher as it is a hobby.  

My favourite bird is the kereru. We have a pair that hang out in our front tree and have been returning often to play and feed. The Maori call it kereru in most of the country but kukupa or kuku in some parts of the North Island, particularly in Northland. The kereru is a large bird with iridescent green and bronze feathers on its head and a smart white vest. The noisy beat of its wings is a distinctive sound in our forests.

Songs birds make

The dawn chorus of birds that signal the start of a new day is something quite special. Bird song also fascinates me and has an important social function. It plays a central role in attracting mates and defending territory. Studies are still continuing to understand many aspects of our native bird songs and the differences between song-based male and female social interactions.

The reasons why I enjoy birdwatching.

These are not in any order.

  1. The sheer beauty of the birds
  2. An opportunity to be in nature
  3. Reconnecting with the rhythms of the natural world
  4. Finding or renewing my sense of place
  5. Improving my physical and mental health
  6. Provides an excuse to travel
  7. Broadens my mind and curiosity
  8. It is fun!

Your turn.

Perhaps you would like to give bird watching a go then this resource is a good starting point as is this information from Forest & Bird. When you’re outside next watch and listen very carefully for birds or head along to a local birdwatching event. There is also an annual bird-watching opportunity to get involved and put your skills to the test. The NZ Garden Bird Survey is held annually in early July and has just finished. Comparing the results with other years this helps to see which birds are surviving well, and which ones are becoming less common.  

The most important aspect of birdwatching is to have fun. It is indeed a wonderful pastime and one that I enjoy doing.  

Let me know in the comments if you give birdwatching a go, and what birds you see. Happy birdwatching!

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