How to become a birder
If you love birds, you already have every reason you need to become a birder. This hobby is a fantastic one that will introduce you to new people, take you all over the world, and will keep you fit while you’re at it.
So how can you take the next step and become a birder?
Step one: Do your research
The first thing you will need is a field guide. There are plenty of books available on birds you might find in your country or region, and you’ll need to get your hands on one and start getting acquainted.
These books will provide a detailed list of birds, including photos or images of what they look like, where you might find them, when you are best to spot one, and other useful information such as rarity and eating habits.
Spend time reading through this book, and continuing further research online and through television shows such as David Attenborough’s ‘Life of Birds’, which is a fascinating and comprehensive guide to these creatures all over the world.
Step two: Get the right gear
You’ll need everything you would expect you would if you were to take up hiking as a serious hobby. You’ll need sturdy walking shoes, a backpack, comfortable exercise gear, a sunhat or two, and a full set of waterproof clothing for rainy days. Of course, you will also need a good set of binoculars, and if you’re keen to capture your adventures in film, a quality camera, too.
Part of this step is to also ensure you have the fitness to spend hours walking. It may be a good idea to start including a few walks a week to build up your strength and endurance.
Step three: Make a plan
At this stage, you already have everything you need to walk out your front door and start spotting birds. However, there will only be so much you can achieve by taking random walks on occasion.
Use your field guide to map out routes you want to achieve, birds you want to see, and trips you want to take over the coming months. Giving yourself achievable goals like this will help make the monumental task of spotting the thousands of birds out there a much more manageable one.
You plan might start with local birds in your local area, then include weekends away to nearby destinations, before finally working up to international trips – such as a visit to New Zealand for a birding tour in Auckland with us!
Step four: Find a support group
Birding is often so much more enjoyable when you can share your successes (and frustrations) with fellow birders and enthusiasts. Do some research into any local communities, as well as the many that are online, and find a group of similarly passionate people.
You may also want to sign up for digital or print magazines. For example, the National Audubon Society in the US is one of the world’s largest and most respected birding groups that also offers a magazine subscription, as well as online news and articles.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist