There are two, distinctive segments of the hobby of bird watching.
- There are those that feed and watch birds in their backyard.
- There are those that move far beyond the backyard with the purpose of seeing new and different bird species. There is no element of feeding birds in this segment.
In combination, over 50 million Americans watch and feed birds, expending over $20 billion each year in the process. Download the latest report for detailed information.
Bird feeding represents the larger of the two groups. It can be enjoyed by anyone, and can be as simple as spreading seed on the ground.
As interest in the hobby grows, a variety of feeders and feed can be added to attract more species. Birdbaths are easy additions that attract a larger diversity of species than just feeding birds.
As bird identification becomes more important, binoculars and a field guide become a valuable aid.
The second segment is now known as birding. Those that participate in the hobby are birders.
On one end of the spectrum, birding can be a casual hobby. On the other end it can become a competitive sport, with individuals or teams seeking to identify the greatest number of different species in a specified time frame.
Birders require a good pair of binoculars and a field guide to participate in their hobby. As interest grows, spotting scopes and life lists often become essential elements of the hobby.
Tools of the trade
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