why is bird watching so popular

Why Is Bird Watching Popular? Get Outside and Watch

Birds have always fascinated us; we’ve studied their flight paths, recorded their callings, and measured their wingspan. Although, this has mainly been for research and studies. Lately, however, more and more people have taken up bird watching as a hobby, and since you’re reading this post, you’re probably wondering, why is bird watching so popular today?

Has bird watching always been in such high demand or are people just realizing its enjoyability, especially now because of the lockdown?

Today, we’re answering all questions related to bird watching. We’ll start with a brief history of this interesting hobby, then we’ll talk about some of the reasons why we’ve turned bird watching, or birding, into such a popular pastime.

Let’s get started.

Photo by Imogen Warren

A Brief History of Bird Watching

Since the beginning of time, we’ve had a strong connection with birds. We hunted them for food, and they’ve helped us control pests, spread, seeds, pollinate plants, and more.

It wasn’t until the Victorian Era when scientists began recording data for research. They studied their feathers, eggs, migratory patterns, and whatever else they could find.

By the late 19th century, the Audubon Society was formed. Soon after, other bird societies were launched in different regions of the world. They all called for the study and preservation of all bird species.

The earliest guide was the book Birds through an Opera Glass written by Florence Merriam in 1889. Yet, it wasn’t until 1901 when the phrase ‘bird watching’ first appeared. It was used as the title of a book by Edmund Selous.

Bird Watching in Pennsylvania

1. It’s a Low-Tech Hobby

Bird watching is still appealing even in this high-tech day and age. It doesn’t need intricate gadgets or expensive gear. It’s straightforward and available to everyone.

That being said, we can’t deny how technology is making it easier for people to access bird guides. This is a big reason why more and more people are discovering their passion for bird watching. There are many websites and apps that provide free information on everything bird-related.

Author Note: With some apps, like the Merlin Bird ID, just upload a photo of your recent sighting and It’ll give you detailed information about it along with some interesting tidbits.

Other apps, like Song Sleuth, use bird calls as their way of identification. You record a bird song on your phone and upload it to the app. In a matter of seconds, you’ll get a comprehensive description of the bird you just heard.

2. Birds Are Everywhere

Virtually anywhere you go in the world, you can enjoy bird watching. There are always birds soaring and flying around. All you have to do is look up at the sky.

It’s true that some regions have more bird species than others. Yet, while they may be harder to find in urban areas, you may still come across one or two local birds.

Another thing you can count on with birding is that it’s non-seasonal. So, wherever you are, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you’re sure to find one species or another.

Photo by Imogen Warren

3. Anyone Can Do It

One of the great things about bird watching is that you don’t need to be skilled in anything to enjoy it. It doesn’t require training or practice.

Plus, it’s a pretty flexible hobby. You can also be as much involved in it as you want, whenever and wherever you want.

This makes it one of the most uncomplicated outdoor activities for people of all ages. It’s one of those things you can do when you’re 9 or 90.

Men and women of all races and nationalities enjoy birding. It’s an activity that doesn’t discriminate.

4. Clean and Safe Outdoor Fun

Bird Watcher Silhouette

Bird watching is one of the few activities where you don’t have to do anything remotely dangerous. All you have to do is show up, explore nature, and just have a good time.

Birding is now even more popular ever since the pandemic’s lockdown measures went into effect. People started looking out their windows more and paid more attention to the birds in the sky.

The American Birding Association podcast saw a huge rise in downloads over a few months. This also goes for website traffic on the Audubon Society, thanks, in part, to their bird guide app.

BirdFellow is another well-known website that offers all types of bird-related information. They have a Facebook page and Twitter account where birders can share their latest adventures.

5. It Costs Next to Nothing

One reason why bird watching is so popular is you can spend as little or as much money as you want. It’s accessible to all budgets and incomes.

All you need for basic bird watching are your eyes and a respectable pair of binoculars. Other than that, you really don’t need anything else.

Some people choose to splurge on a bird guide. Yet, with so many free guides on the net, you may not even need a paid guide. Others buy bird feeders, spotting scopes, and nest boxes.

There are those who choose to set up cameras around their homes to transmit live feed. If you feel like this is something you’d enjoy but don’t feel like spending any money, no problem; there are plenty of websites with a live feed that runs 24/7 and it won’t cost you a cent!

Sitting at home watching birds on your laptop sort of defeats the purpose of the activity. Yet, it does give you an up-close and personal look into many types of birds.

Use these live feeds to your advantage. They can help you learn more about each bird type. Then, once you’re outdoors, you’ll know exactly what to look for.

Photo by Imogen Warren

6. Gives You a New Appreciation for Nature

We live in a busy hustle-and-bustle time. We’re always rushing somewhere, trying to get five things done at once. Bird watching teaches you how to slow down and enjoy the view.

Author Note: When you go bird watching, there’s nothing there except you and the wildlife around you. You get to see first-hand all the little, fine details you’d normally miss if you weren’t paying attention.

Just being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is enough to restore your love for Mother Nature. You might even find yourself projecting some of that love into other parts of your life. Your friends and family will notice you’ve become calmer and more at peace, and it’s all thanks to your new hobby.

7. Boost Your Knowledge of Birds

Before you know it, you’ll be able to tell different species apart. Granted, anyone can tell the difference between a crow and a bald eagle, but it takes dedication to spot the little details, like the half-inch wide band on the breast of a bank swallow as it zooms overhead.

Spotting and identifying birds will become second nature. Who knows? You may even become the local authority figure on the subject.

Photo by Imogen Warren

8. See New People and Places

Birding makes it easy to meet new people who share similar likes and interests. If you’re into birds and eager to learn, you’re instantly part of the ‘in’ crowd.

According to recent surveys, bird watching has become a multimillion-dollar industry. It’s a major part of ecotourism and has a sector of the industry all to itself, known as avitoursim.

To cement their love for the hobby, people have set up dozens of groups and clubs dedicated to bird watching. There are also festivals, events, and programs operating year-round.

Some events, like ‘For Young Birders,’ are designed to bring together a younger and more diverse group of bird watchers. It’s a great opportunity for the new generation of birders to meet people their age who share a similar interest.

Plus, you get to visit new places and explore new routes. Just having that change of scenery alone is wonderful.

9. Become Politically Active

Young birdwatcher looks with his binoculars

Connecting with nature doesn’t only mean observing everything in its natural habitat. It also means finding ways to enhance wildlife habitats.

This can be done in various ways, such as:

  • Donating to local wildlife conservation societies
  • Writing to your congressman
  • Participating in local environmental groups
  • Advocating for wildlife recreation

10. Relax and Forget Your Worries

What can be more relaxing than being outside in the fresh air and sunshine looking for birds? Studies show how bird watching reduces stress, anxiety, and even depression.

These studies take into account being outdoors where there’s fresh air, plants, and sunlight. Yet, their main focus was on how seeing a variety of birds seemed to elevate people’s moods. Just seeing a bird or two soaring up ahead reduces our stress levels and makes us feel less anxious.

Author Note: Not only that, but bird watching also improves your cognitive functions. You’ll start noticing you’re concentrating better. You’re able to focus for longer periods, and your memory is becoming more reliable.

Final Thoughts

Birds are captivating creatures with unique calls, behaviors, and rituals. If you’re one of the lucky ones who get to call themselves a birder, you know the fascination with birds never fades. If anything, it only gets stronger with time.

So, why is bird watching popular? It’s convenient, it’s affordable, and it’s accessible. Even with little money, little time, and almost no gear at all, you can enjoy birding almost anywhere in the world. This is why more and more people are picking up this exciting hobby than ever before! We hope you enjoyed this article on why is bird watching so popular.

Fly high friends!


What are the 3 best reasons for going bird watching?

1. You get to see amazing places and animals.
2. It gets you off the couch and moving.
3. It takes your mind off things and gives you peace.

What is the difference between a bird watcher and birdwatching?

If you are birdwatching then you are looking at birds that happen to be in the same place as you are.
If you are a bird watcher then you specifically go to places to see different birds. In the U.K. avid bird watchers are called Twitchers.

Does listening to birds make you happy?

Yes. It is not all about bird watching. Studies in urban areas have shown that simply hearing birds singing can help you connect with nature and improve your mental health.

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