Is birdwatching (also known to many as birding) going through a renaissance? It has become one of the most popular hobbies in the world, with people of all ages and social backgrounds now taking part. From what was once a niche hobby, birding is now a leading leisure-time activity enjoyed by millions.
Why watch birds? No other creatures are quite so ubiquitous – birds are found on every one of the world’s seven continents, and are often the most obvious and numerous wild creatures wherever you travel. With no other creature has our relationship been so constant, so varied, so enriched by symbol, myth, art and science, and so contradictory as that with birds. Since earliest times, birds have served as symbols of peace and war, as subjects of art, music and poetry, as objects for scientific study and for ‘sport’.
Photo credit: Serge Arias
Birders have long been pioneers in discovering new and exotic tourism destinations around the world, as they seek a new species to add to their “life list”. But not all birders are driven by listing species, nor do they have to belong to a bird club. The hobby doesn’t require much money at all, but rather just a pair of binoculars, a field guide, a notebook and a passion for nature – and, of course, a healthy dose of patience. Birding is good for your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health – a way of escaping from the rat-race of modern life, and simply enjoying being closer to the wild. Maybe that is the growing attraction in today’s world.
Mike Jarvis from Experience the Wild in the Northern Territory, Australia says that “…at its best, birding feels like a treasure hunt, especially as one becomes more aware of the native species you can see near where you live. There’s always the potential to spot more birds, and the thrill of finding something new and exciting feels like a real accomplishment”.
Photo credit: Mike Javis, Experience the Wild
Several major brands from around the world have taken note of this growing hobby – Nikon, Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss and Panasonic have been manufacturing specific products for birdwatching for some time now. Tourism boards also appreciate the value of birders visiting their respective countries. Following the recent peace agreement, Colombia (home to more bird species than any other country on the planet) is anticipating an extra $US50m in tourism which will assist in creating approximately 7,000 new jobs.
Or maybe both brands and tourism boards have already understood that the younger generation of today, with their smartphones at the ready, are the future of this hobby. They have found a way to connect themselves with nature, nature with healthy habitats and healthy habitats with healthy species. Or maybe they are just seeking another “subject” to snap on their phones!
Are you interested in going birdwatching?
Blue Sky Wildlife offers a unique collection of birding and wildlife tours from around the world, with a choice of 35 destinations, over 70 tour operators and 350 itineraries to choose from for the independent birder and ecotourist.