Getting outdoors to observe and study birds is a great way to learn more about our non-human neighbors and connect with the animal side of ourselves. Birding has been around for hundreds of years and has been making a comeback in the younger generations. What exactly is ‘birding’, you ask? As stated on Wikipedia:
“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″
Birding sounds like a serious business, but I promise it’s a lot of fun and really badass!
– WAW Editor
Here are 3 Reasons Birding is Badass … and Making a Comeback from WAW writer, Katie la Kapro:
It’s like Twitter for Real Life
The surging popularity of bird watching and smartphone apps are irrevocably intertwined.
Prior to the smartphone era, the way to learn bird calls was to devote season after season to building up a birdsong library in your head. It was a lifestyle. But today, anyone with a smartphone can bone-up on their bird song and identification skills even before the birding season hits.
In the modern era, a person can study bird calls all winter long from the comfort of the coziest fireside chair in the house. By the time hiking season hits, they’ll have a solid base of bird song knowledge from which to draw.
Learning bird calls from an app is a bit like being handed the alphabet of a language you want to learn. Having a point of reference speeds up the process and makes it more accessible sure, but the onus falls on the student to apply that base knowledge to every sound they hear, every question they have, and every new scenario they encounter.
By the way, the Twitter logo, to address the burning question of all you budding birders out there, was designed to most closely resemble a mountain bluebird.
The Birding Community is Soaring
With the newfound ease of field identification, we find ourselves in a time when it’s simpler than ever to share birding discoveries, questions, and curiosities with other nature lovers. Instead of relying upon geography alone, birding communities can now connect through apps and online courses.
We are Wildness University offers an online birding course in which students are taught everything from how to listen for birds to what effect feather fluff has on their shapes. They learn why birds are important to the global ecology and how to record and identify them in their own backyards.
Students interact with one another on an online forum where they share their most delightful encounters with rare winged visitors, commiserate over birdless days because of hurricane-force winds, and share their progress on daily challenges.
All the Cool Kids are Doing it
The number of youthful birders is on the rise. Whenever a movement has such hearty engagement from the upcoming generations, you know it’s on track to evolve in new and exciting ways.
Kids don’t get engaged in a vacuum of course. It’s all thanks to the efforts of bird lovers the world over who took the time to share their passions with the next generation. Without programs like Seattle Audubon’s Young Birders, how many urban teens would be lucky enough to have real YOLO experiences? And no, not the cliché YOLOs like everyone else in their class; rather, close encounters of the “You Obviously Love Owls” kind.
Aphorisms aside, most beneficial of all, birding gives kids and teens the opportunity to build a bridge between the world of technology into which they were born and the natural world in which we all thrive.
Birding, says fourteen year-old Dessi Seiburth in an interview with CBS Philadelphia, “is kind of like a video game actually, you look for something new and try to find things […] and I think that excites the mind of young people.”
The more young birders flock to the outdoors, the better off our planet will be.
Young or old, birding connects us to our own wildness. And it does so without actively dropping us into a position in the food chain that some would rather sidestep. Some people commune with their wildness by hunting food for the year. But hunting isn’t for everywhere. And we are lucky enough to have the luxury to choose.
For those who prefer to interact with nature from a place of appreciation rather than sustenance, birding offers the badassest of solutions. It allows us to observe, record, and appreciate the awesomeness of the natural world in which we live.
To learn more about We Are Wildness’ contribution to the badass birding movement, visit the Birding Adventures course page in We Are Wildness University!