I was introduced to the wonderful world of bird-watching by my friend Shrinath in the December of 2017. Since then I have started to take notice of the wildlife around me that I just automatically filtered out before. I started hearing and seeing birds everywhere. I would like to point out that I am just a beginner birdwatcher and hence the experience that I am sharing in this blog are of a beginner birdwatcher. I feel bird-watching is a great hobby, for the following reasons:
- Birds are extremely beautiful and joyous to look at, it simply makes me very happy to even spot a common bird.
- It is a hobby that can be practiced anywhere and everywhere, yes, even in Electronic city (Bangalore) we find such variety of birds.
- It is a very versatile hobby, you can choose to invest as much time and money you want into it.
- I started hearing and seeing better, or rather, stopped automatically filtering everything I hear and see.
- I started traveling more and looking forward to the travel, in expectation of getting to spot a new bird or different birds from the usual bird-watching.
- My sleep cycle has changed considerably, I used to wake up just a few minutes before class and sleep way past midnight. Now I wake up at 6AM and go to sleep at 10PM, all just to bird-watch every day. I used to think that sleep cycle doesn’t really matter much, but I am happier with the new sleep cycle.
- It has several physical and mental health benefits.
- If you update your bird sightings on opensource databases such as eBird, it will collectively help us better understand birds.
To begin bird-watching you do not need any investment. You can get started and see how you like it. Although a pair of binoculars help, it is not an absolute necessity. Bird-watching is a combination of active observation and hearing. I usually hear the bird first and then spot it by identifying the origin of the sound. So, try to keep both your eyes and ears on alert. The following tools are good to have:
- A field guide: When you spot a bird and want to identify it, you can use a field guide, it will have the description of all birds, a picture and habits. It is an extremely useful tool to learn about birds.
- A binocular: A binocular makes it easy to spot birds by magnifying their features. I have a cheap beginner binocular, it has been very helpful in spotting birds. The internet recommends buying an 8×40 binocular.
- A camera: A camera with a zoom lens (I have a Canon 1300D with 300mm lens) will be extremely helpful in documenting your sightings and for investigative photography. Most of the times, I identify the bird when I go back to my computer and look at the pictures. Sometimes, I even observe some things that I did not in the field.
- A smartphone: You can install some apps on your phone that will help you bird-watch. For example, this is an okayish app, but it doesn’t have all the birds in it. Another great advantage of having a smartphone is that you can analyze the spectrum of the bird calls. In my beginning days of bird-watching, I used to always run behind this mysterious high pitched sound, trying to find this exotic bird. I would zero in on the tree, but no trace of any bird. After several sessions of this running around, I found that the source of this sound were squirrels. Hence I used a spectrum analyzer to look at the sound and decide if its a bird or something else. It is also extremely helpful in cities where many sources of sound seem like birds.
- Proper Attire: To be safe while you are running behind a bird, I would recommend you to wear shoes. I wear gumboots when I plan to go into grassy/swampy regions. Try not to wear very bright/outstanding colors, camouflage dressing would be best.
Bird-watching also comes with huge responsibilities. We have to take serious responsibility to avoid any harm to birds or any other wildlife. One must be a silent watcher as if one was never there, there should be minimal to no trace left behind. We must respect the boundaries of birds as well as other people. Click here to learn more.
Hope this might have inspired you to try out bird-watching if you haven’t already. If you want to take a look at some of my bird pictures, please look at the gallery. In the next blog, I will write about some common birds in Bangalore, especially in electronics city and where to spot them. I would love to go bird watching with you, if you are ever near my area (Electronic city, Bangalore), ping me!