How to get into birdwatching

How to get into birdwatching

(This is part 3 in our new travel series. Read part 1 on cottages here, and part 2 on sailing here.)

Remember the movie The Big Year starring Owen Wilson and Jack Black? They competed to find or hear the most bird species in one calendar year. But even if you don’t have a year to spare on a grand contest, that doesn’t mean that birding can’t be your next summertime hobby. Here now are 7 reasons to become a budding birder.

  1. It’s ‘cheep’. That’s right. All you need is a pair of binoculars and a field guide (grab a book from a local bookstore or download a free app. If you’ve got a camera (or your phone) you may be able to get a few decent shots, especially if you have any kind of zoom lens. If you find you really get into it, you could invest in those pieces.
  2. You have to go outside. Even though you could technically watch them from your window or balcony, it’s much more enjoyable to get outside to go on a bird search. Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce depression and obesity. What could be more pleasant than time spent outdoors when you’ve got your ears trained on the happy call of a white-throated sparrow?
  3. Birds & peace. You’re outside; you’re walking around soundlessly, listening for a particular birdcall…that’s pretty relaxing. When you’re out bird watching with your binoculars or camera handy we bet you’ll feel pretty calm – tranquil, even!
  4. Flock, you. Bird watching is a social activity – don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Whether you run into other birders along the way or attend organized meet-ups and groups, you can connect with like-minded people who also have an affinity for fowl. Maybe you’ll make friends for life.
  5. It’s good for you. So you made the first step to step outside, you feel relaxed, you’re learning new things, you’ve made some friends and even improved your state of mind, it also makes sense that bird watching is also good exercise. Think how much distance and calories burned you could clock on the FitBit.
  6. Birding is Educational. Birding is a fun way to learn about science, nature and the environment. It’s a great way to get to know more about your local parks and nature spaces.
  7. What rhymes with “swipe right”? Date night. So it’s more of a daytime thing. Go on a bird watching date instead of the usual dimly lit restaurant or crowded club. Pick up some bread, cheese and meat and a bottle of wine or some crisp ciders and get to know each other in a totally different setting. Just be sure to put down the binoculars every so often and look your date in the eye.



Best Places to Bird in Canada

British ColumbiaVancouver
(George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary)
Coastal marsh with more than 240 species spotted here.
ManitobaChurchillArctic rarities like the Ross’ Gull, Three-toed Woodpecker and Smith’s Longspur.
OntarioLake Erie, Point Pelee and Long Annual migratory destination of over 350 species in spring and fall.
OntarioNiagara FallsThe Niagara River and Falls are places where up to 19 species have been spotted and recorded.
QuebecGaspe PeninsulaShelter for many duck species and migrant birds. Bonus spotting: lynx and Snowshoe hares.
ManitobaRiding Mountain National Park Nice place to see Broadwinged and Cooper’s hawks, eagles, geese, ducks and Black-billed cuckoo.
New BrunswickMachais Seal Island and Grand Manan IslandHundreds of species here, including cranes, herons, eagles, puffins and terns.
Newfoundland Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Cape St. Mary’s Ecological ReserveLargest Atlantic Puffin colony in North America and the second largest colony of Leach’s Petrels in the world.
Nova ScotiaThe Cabot TrailLots of nesting boreal birds here and possibly Puffins, Razorbills, Black Legged Kittiwakes and Ruddy Turnstones in summer.
AlbertaBeaverhill LakeMajor migratory point, including 100,000 or more Snow Geese that pass through in spring and fall. Also sightings of Sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans.

A Compendium of Bird Terms

The list is much longer than this, but here are a few of the more interesting ones:

Big Day: trying to observe as many bird species as possible within 24 hours.

Big Year: trying to observe as many bird species as possible in one calendar year.

BOP: Bird of prey.

Burn up: Disturb shrubs and/or undergrowth hoping to stir a bird.

Dude: A low-key birdwatcher with a lack of devotion or enthusiasm.

Grip (Grip someone off): bragging to another birder after seeing a bird the other person didn’t.
LBJs (little brown jobs): general term for plain-looking songbirds that are hard to distinguish.

Lifer: a first-time sighting for a birder.

Siesta time: time of day in the afternoon when most birds are tucked out of view.

SOB (spouse of birder): someone who’s had the misfortune of pledging their life to a birder.

Twitcher: An obsessive birder who will go to great lengths to observe rare birds.

With the help of a local ornithological club and a little spare time, you’ll be wandering the woodland trails in no time. Let the chirping songs of our feathered friends help take your mind off the outside world. It’s a great excuse to go camping, too!