Monday, January 26, 2009

Enjoying Birding

What can one do that is relatively inexpensive, helps you get away from the worries of the day, gets you outdoors, enables you to get some exercise, can be done alone or in a group, and provides you with lasting memories and good conversation? That is one heck of a question! Or is it a multitude of questions?

Birding, that’s the answer.

Let’s face it. This is cheap entertainment. First, all you really need to get started is a bird feeder or two and some seed or nectar. This is it, if what you hope to do is watch the birds that come to your own backyard. Hours of watching intently or on the spur of the moment can be had for pennies a day.

Of course, once you have enjoyed and learned about the birds in your yard, you’ll probably start noticing birds everywhere. It is just like buying a new car. Once you have bought the car, you start noticing that model on every road you travel. Once, you’ve noticed the birds in your backyard, you’ll notice them on your morning walk through the neighborhood, at the park, driving down the highway, in the fields on the edge of town, down at the river where you fish—everywhere.

So the next step is to get a good pair of binoculars, a field guide and your local checklist. And there is no stopping you. Your friends will start to ask you, the burgeoning expert, just what was that bird they saw the other day.

What is a good pair of binoculars going to cost you? One can spend any amount on binoculars. Consider that one will probably be using these for a number of years. Consider that you want a pair of binoculars through which you can actually tell the colors on the wings, or belly or tail. Consider that you want a pair that enables the identification of the bird. Consider that old birders never die; their eyesight just “ain’t as good as it used to be”. Therefore, do not buy a cheap pair of binoculars! Invest enough in your binocular to keep you satisfied with your purchase for many years. Here, look at it this way: if you bought a Vortex Diamondback and you knew that you were going to use these over the next ten years (a lifetime warranty not withstanding), the cost would be barely more than a nickel a day. Similarly, if you bought a Vortex Viper it would be about 14 cents per day. See, I told you this was an inexpensive proposition.

Lastly, investigate the local Audubon Society in your area. Find out when and where they meet. Once you start attending their meetings, you’ll learn of places all around you where there are wonderful and exciting birds to see. Then you will have new friends and a community with whom to share all this. That is more than satisfactory, that’s great!

Birding is the answer, yep!

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