Birdwatching, or birding, is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds.
Birdwatching often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using formal scientific methods.
In North America, many birders differentiate themselves from birdwatchers, and the term birder is unfamiliar to most lay people. At the most basic level, the distinction is perceived as one of dedication or intensity, though this is a subjective differentiation. Generally, self-described birders perceive themselves to be more versed in minutiae like identification (aural and visual), molt, distribution, migration timing, and habitat usage. Whereas these dedicated birders may often travel specifically in search of birds, birdwatchers have been described by some enthusiasts as having a more limited scope, perhaps not venturing far from their own yards or local parks to view birds. Indeed, in 1969 a Birding Glossary appeared in Birding magazine which gave the following definitions:
- Birder. The acceptable term used to describe the person who seriously pursues the hobby of birding. May be professional or amateur.
- Birding. A hobby in which individuals enjoy the challenge of bird study, listing, or other general activities involving bird life.
- Bird-watcher. A rather ambiguous term used to describe the person who watches birds for any reason at all, and should not be used to refer to the serious birder.
— Birding, Volume 1, No.2
Twitching is a British term used to mean "the pursuit of a previously located rare bird." In North America it is more often called chasing, though the British usage is starting to catch on there, especially among younger birders. The term twitcher, sometimes misapplied as a synonym for birder, is reserved for those who travel long distances to see a rare bird that would then be ticked, or counted on a list. The term originated in the 1950s, when it was used for the nervous behaviour of Howard Medhurst, a British birdwatcher. Prior terms for those who chased rarities were pot-hunter, tally-hunter, or tick-hunter. The main goal of twitching is often to accumulate species on one's lists. Some birders engage in competition to accumulate the longest species list. The act of the pursuit itself is referred to as a twitch or a chase. A rare bird that stays put long enough for people to see it is twitchable or chaseable.
Twitching is highly developed in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden. The size of these countries makes it possible to travel throughout them quickly and with relative ease. The most popular twitches in the UK have drawn large crowds; for example, approximately 2,500 people travelled to Kent, England, to view a golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), which is native to North America. Twitchers have developed their own vocabulary. For example, a twitcher who fails to see a rare bird has dipped out; if other twitchers do see the bird, he may feel gripped off. Suppression is the act of concealing news of a rare bird from other twitchers.
Many birdwatchers maintain a life list, that is, a list of all of the species they have seen in their life, usually with details about the sighting such as date and location. The American Birding Association has specific rules about how a bird species may be documented and recorded in such a list if it is submitted to the ABA; however, the criteria for the personal recording of these lists are very subjective. Some birdwatchers "count" species they have identified audibly, while others only record species that they have identified visually. Some also maintain a country list, state list, county list, yard list, year list, or any combination of these.
Source: Birdwatching from Wikipedia
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