A few days ago I found a post on the blog of The Nature Conservancy saying how to become a birder in four easy steps. It describes the tools, from the binoculars to field guides, and actions better to take for being a birder or birdwatcher.
I clearly remember how I became a birdwatcher 30 years ago. That wasn’t started by simply buying a binocular. To be honest didn’t even know a field guide existed until the Peterson guide was introduced to me. That time there was no internet, no mailing lists just a nice old ornithologist who directed me to find the right way to be a good birdwatcher.
White Stork is an easy target species in Europe. © György Szimuly
Prior to this I was admired by the richness of birdlife and their colours. Great vocation and respect is also needed to become a good birdwatcher. In order to make ethical birding thus becoming a good birdwatcher, we have to know or have to acquire the knowledge on the life of birds, we have to listen and understand the actions our birds are doing in the field. If we don’t listen these moments a fatal step would easily taken.
I rarely see young or beginner birders birding alone. The best is to join to an expert and pick up knowledge on birds, their life-cycle, the habitat they prefer or the song they sing and so on. Birding camps and courses are a useful opportunity to get close to birds. A birder having 3,000 bird species on his/her list is not necessarily a good birder but a good traveller who count the bird species seen/heard/showed. Start birding around your home and try to go green. It is not always possible but if you can do it then do it. Later, when you have knowledge you can travel across the world for new species.
One said: if you read 10 different books on the particular topic you are close to be called as an expert on that topic. That is also true in birding. Start reading tale-like birding novels. I loved them so much and encouraged me to go out and listen even more carefully. Then read conservation related articles (not hard-core research papers!) to understand the status of birds around you.
You are a good birder if you mix the joy of birdwatching with active field work to support conservation programmes. Bird counts are essential and indispensable tool for bird conservation. Without data on bird numbers and the trends of their populations decision makers cannot stand by birds. Lets pick up your binocular, place your field guide into your backpack and carefully listen to birds, learn to count them and share your data with others.