What Is The Appeal of Bird Watching? [ANSWERED!]

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Maybe you’ve heard of the term bird watching before, and you’re wondering if this hobby is appealing at all. So I collected some anecdotes and research to list out 9 appeals. Here they are:

The 9 Appeals of Bird Watching:

  1. The Thrill Of The Hunt
  2. Bird Watching Is A Low-Entry Hobby
  3. A Wonderful Bird Watching Community
  4. You’ll Learn To Appreciate Nature More
  5. Bird Watching Is Good For Your Physical Health
  6. Bird Watching Is Good For Your Mental Health
  7. Great For Outdoor Lovers
  8. Great For Animal Lovers
  9. Bird Watching Is Collecting Pokémon In Real Life

Now with so many appeals of bird watching, you’ll want to know more details right? Let me run through them quickly for you! Also, if you read on to the end, I’ll make sure you know how to get started if you want to too!

1. The Thrill Of The Hunt

Now if you’re completely new to bird watching, you may not have heard of this term before. The thrill of the hunt is one of the main appeals of bird watching and exactly why bird watchers keep coming back for more and can’t get enough of the hobby.

The thrill of the hunt is the feeling of euphoria and excitement of tracing and tracking down the sighting of a particular bird. This can seem rather trivial to those who have not experienced it before, but to many bird watchers, this is a sensation that they would drive two full hours just to experience.

Some say that this feeling of the thrill of the hunt comes all the way from our ancient ancestors who had to animals in order for food to survive. In today’s modern context, it is believed that humans still maintain this instinct to some extent, but instead of hunting birds, we are simply spotting them. 

For those who want to show, and not just tell the tale of spotting a rare bird, they can choose to take pictures of the bird, which is akin to the early ancestor’s kill. A similar hobby where people also feel this is fishing.

The thrill of the hunt is a fuzzy instinct and adrenaline in our veins when we see or hear a particular call of a bird not normally seen in our local area.

It is an intense and exciting desire to be able to catch a glimpse of the bird. If you like feeling the adrenaline pumping through your veins, then this hobby is great for you!

This hunt also poses a challenge. Bird watching can, however, be more difficult than hunting actual large animals because of how fleeting and jumpy some of the small birds can get. In order to get a clear shot (camera shot) at the bird, you would have to get in really close without startling the bird!

Any false step and it could potentially fly away, abandoning its position.

2. Bird Watching Is A Low-Entry Hobby

Here’s me, using just my binoculars and my phone to take pictures of birds

Now if you’ve partaken in other hobbies before, there are some that require lots of effort to prepare gear and book a space in order to even begin.

Bird watching is the complete opposite of that! In fact, you could even do it right now! Don’t believe me? Look out the door and listen to the birds chirping outside your window or in the neighborhood around. You’re already bird-watching by doing all that!

To begin as a bird watcher, all you need to do is begin to appreciate the birds around you. They’ve been around all along, it’s just that you probably haven’t even noticed them!

Why is it a low-entry hobby? That’s because, to start bird watching you practically don’t need any expensive gear, even a pair of binoculars! 

A pair of binoculars will definitely be needed to help you progress as you go along and want to observe birds from afar.

But that’s not really needed if you wanted to just get started. You can definitely start with baby steps in bird watching by just looking out your window or backyard and observing the birds there!

If you’d like to venture more into bird watching, you can purchase a pair of binoculars to see further. All the other gear that you would need is not entirely essential.

Hear me out: A pair of decent, durable binoculars is enough to last you almost a lifetime, with no extra costs you need to spend on this hobby. I got mine at around $140 USD!

Of course, if you want to progress into bird photography, that’s entirely up to you to purchase a good camera! No pressure. Now if bird watching is so easy to get into, don’t you think that it’s appealing too? 🙂

3. A Wonderful Bird Watching Community

There are other hobbies out that sadly don’t have much of community engagement. Bird watching has been a hobby that has been loved by many people for many decades since it became popular. As such, people have learned to build and preserve communities within bird watching.

Unlike some hobbies, bird watching is not a solitary hobby. Bird watchers who think alike gather to enjoy the hobby together, or shall I say birds of the same feathers flock together.

Birds tend to flock to a location where they can find a more abundant source of food and a higher concentration of natural resources. As such, it is common to also spot other bird watchers in the area who want to spot a bird or two. 

Generally, they tend to be friendly and willing to help you out in your journey in bird watching.

Beyond just casual interactions, there are also bird watching groups on Facebook and official associations that you can be a part of. I personally enjoy the community of bird watchers in the Facebook group I’m in, as they always help each other out in helping to ID birds. The best part has to be the encouragement they give to each other, and the insights they give to track down a rarer bird.

Screenshot from Bird Sightings Facebook group

If you’d like to further get involved socially in birding, there are more fun birding festivals and birding tours that you can take part in to get to know new people who share the same hobby as you.

I for one, personally know that many people from other hobbies are just dying to know someone else whom they can ramble to for hours on end about their favorite gears and tips! 

They’re missing out on all the social interaction and fun that we have. Rest assured, for birding, we won’t face these same problems!

Birding festival locations in North America from All About Birds

Joining an official association for bird watching can instill a sense of belonging to a community to develop this similar interest together. It’s a fantastic hobby to step out of your comfort zone, and share experiences with others. We humans aren’t mean to do all things solitarily!

4. You’ll Learn To Appreciate Nature More

dawn nature holiday vacation

Once you’ve been on a bird watching trip, there’s something super magical about the experience that always appeals to me. If I had to pinpoint what that is, it would be that I am learning to appreciate nature more. If you’re living in a city like me, or if you’ve hardly ever had time to stop by and look at nature around you, then bird watching will force you to do so.

When you are on your very first bird watching trip, you’ll notice that looking at birds will force you to stop and observe the nature around you. Then you’ll start to notice that there is indeed lots of flora and fauna around you that you never noticed! I’m sure you’ll feel the same sense of wonder and awe as I did for my first bird watching trip!

As you step into different environments to spot birds, you’ll notice that birds live in forests, jungles, wetlands, swamps, and lakes all over the world. You’ll then slowly learn to appreciate how beautiful our wild world is! Birds are everywhere where there’s vegetation.

However, while bird watching and appreciating nature can be appealing and fun, you’ll also discover how climate change is leading to the destruction of bird habitats around the world. 

It’s become increasingly important for us to understand how we can combat it and prevent it. When you step into bird watching, you’ll soon realize that birds and other wildlife and vegetation are intertwined and they coexist in a functioning ecosystem.

As you learn more about the behaviors of the birds – mating, feeding, migration, you’ll soon discover how much the environment needs to be conserved for our own sakes. Birds bring a new perspective of our place and responsibility to protect the Earth. Protecting our Earth can be appealing too!

5. Bird Watching Is Good For Your Physical Health

person standing on hand rails with arms wide open facing the mountains and clouds

If you’re someone looking for a hobby that has moderate levels of physical activity, then I would say that bird watching can be one of the appealing hobbies you can pick up!

In our current day and age, it is not uncommon for us to be sitting on our office chairs for hours on end just to work. And yet what do we do during the weekends? We sit on couches and watch Netflix, we game, we watch television. ANY time spent outdoors is already great for your physical health.

While backyard birding may not require much physical effort, most birds do not come to you, you have to go to their habitats to find them!

This means that you will be forced to enter into a natural environment where you will sometimes need hours to hike to. Natural terrain such as mountains, cliffs, and dirt trails will force your physical endurance to be built up over time. Naturally, you will be able to build up muscles, and cardiovascular endurance through bird watching.

If you’re a retired individual or you’re slowly easing into your greying years, then bird watching is actually perfect for you! Of course, you may not be able to take on highly active hobbies like sports. Because bird watching is a hobby that requires a moderate level of hiking, trekking, and walking down trails, you can still get your physical activity without overdoing it!

Not forgetting how the identification of birds requires close observation of small features, which can help to keep your brain sharp and occupied. Again, there are communities available, so you can make new friends there too.

Let’s not forget the vitamin D you can receive from the sun and the fresh oxygenated air you breathe in directly from the vegetation around you.

If you’ve always wanted a hobby with an intermediate level of physical activity, bird watching is suitable for you!

6. Bird Watching Is Good For Your Mental Health

shallow focus on blond haired woman in white long sleeve shirt carrying a baby on her back

When you choose to become a bird watcher, you also choose to improve your mental health. Why do I say so? This is because bird watching can be such a relaxing activity to do in your free time.

Birds are colored with beautiful plumages and endowed with melodious songs that they begin singing in the early mornings. It’s almost like a kind of therapy to be immersed in a natural environment with the birds singing around you and breathing in the crisp fresh air of early mornings in our hike out.

Bird watching can offer a meditative experience if you sit in the quiet, watching and waiting for birds to appear and contemplate life.

It is also a good form of a getaway from your busy corporate life, and think about the things that really matter in your life or simply live in the current moment!

Here’s a sneak peek of what bird watching can be like in the forest:

If you’ve recently chosen to retire from your job, bird watching can be a great way to keep your mind stimulated without excessive physical effort, while still maintaining the rewarding satisfaction of achieving your goals in spotting a rare bird.

7. Great For Outdoor Lovers

Maybe you’ve been brought out in the countryside when you were younger and you miss the sounds of nature instead of those blaring horns, sirens, and loud voices of other people hustling and bustling. Now, if that’s you, or if you just love nature, then bird watching may be appealing to you!

If you’re like me, with a tendency to be around nature a lot, then you gotta know that you’re not alone and that you are missing out on this hobby! Though we may be stuck in our dead-end 9 to 5 jobs every day, bird watching can be our perfect escape.

Bird watching often places us in situations and locations where there is plenty of nature around us. This is because birds and the outdoors make up an ecosystem of different organisms.

You’ll soon learn which type of birds appear in which type of outdoor landscape. For example, loons in lakes, mynahs on the forest floor, songbirds in the canopies, and birds of prey on cliffs. As you learn more about birds and how they interact with the environment around them, you’ll discover a whole new dimension to the hobby that you never knew existed! Now if that isn’t appealing, then I don’t know what else is!

8. Great For Animal Lovers

If you’re an animal lover, then you’re in luck. The more you discover about birds, the more you’ll find them cute, interesting, and sometimes super fascinating! I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a biology major and I’ve been loving biology all my life, but I’ve been loving animals, the outdoors, and nature all along.

Okay, let me show you and not just tell. Did you know that there are birds that can make loud calls at 125 decibels? Yes, there’s such a bird: the white bellbird! How loud is 125 decibels? It’s almost as loud as thunder at 130 decibels!

Not impressed? Here’s are beautifully intriguing courtship displays of Birds-of-Paradise:

9. Bird Watching Is Collecting Pokémon In Real Life

This is gotta be one of the best appeals of bird watching – hands down!

For those of you who are familiar with Pokémon, bird watching is really similar to that! Just that instead of catching pokemon, we are capturing pictures of birds. Shots of birds are proudly showed off on WhatsApp and Facebook groups among bird watchers like the rare shiny you managed to catch! Step aside Pokémon GO, here comes bird watching!

The elusiveness and rarity of shiny Pokémon can be compared to that one rare bird that bird watchers simply cannot locate! Identification, statistics, and details of Pokémon can be comparable to birds in real life.

While it may be valuable for some gamers to be able to identify a Pokémon really quickly, it is also equally important to a bird watcher to do the same! 

Instead of studying the statistics of how powerful your Pokémon is, bird watchers get to compare and share the camera settings, angles, and locations in which they capture pictures of birds.

If you like Pokémon, you would definitely have a knack for bird watching. That’s for sure. In fact, many Pokémon were inspired by birds in real life.

Steps To Take To Start Bird Watching

Now you’ve discovered all the appeals of bird watching and are ready to get started on your journey, let me show you how to get started. I was once like you, just recently got started bird watching and still am extremely fascinated by it and learning along the way.

In order to share my knowledge to help out other beginners or new birders, I made a blog post here on steps to get started with bird watching. Or you can see the article I wrote below.

If you’d like to read a complete beginner’s guide from a very personal point of view, then I suggest you read this other article I wrote here. Or you can click the link below:

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve known all the different things that make bird watching appealing to both me and other bird watchers, why don’t you also take these into account and really get started or get back into the hobby? I’m sure you are missing out on this wild, wacky world of birds and nature.

If you’re here for the long ride, join me along on this blog as I continue to post interesting content for other birders like you! I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and thank you! Happy birding!

My Recommended Birding Resources:

Hey there, Justin here!

Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and brands I trust and love.

My Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars: It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review.

Safe Paint for Bird Baths Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting bird baths.

Safe Sealers for Bird Baths Guide: Learn which sealers are safe for bird baths.

Safe Paint for Bird Feeders Guide: Learn what special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint.

Safe Paint for Birdhouses Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting birdhouses. (Not the same as bird baths!)

Bird Identification Apps Guide: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great for tracking the birds sighted when birding.

Check out my resources page for the full list of resources I recommend!

Justin Chia

Justin is the founder and author of Birding Outdoors. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumnus with a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and a former data analyst.

Now, Justin runs the Birding Outdoors blog full-time, hoping to share his deep love for birds, birding, and nature with others.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

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