Is Birding Fun? – Yes! Here’s My Story.

Is birding fun you ask? Yes! And I’m going to tell you my story here!

First Impressions

When I first meet people at a social gathering, which will generally be around a barbeque in my case, and if  I should see a beautiful bird I just can’t help myself but to point it out to them.

Barbeque
Barbeque’ng with mates is my favourite social gathering

To me, it’s almost like a way of getting to find out if we might have something in common, according to their reaction. If they reply with a – “Huh? Oh! Are you a BIRD NERD? I wouldn’t have a clue what that was, I just saw a brown thing fly past” – then I know that I should possibly continue with the conversation we were having before embarrassing myself and chasing them away. If they do acknowledge the bird, then I find they probably know a lot more than I do and I can’t wait to learn more.

I AM a “Bird Nerd” and my not so informed friends know that they can ask me any questions about wildlife, camping and birding and I will generally be able to help them out. This is not always the case though, but if I’m not sure of the answer, I can most often at least, steer them in the right direction.

Roller
Lilac-breasted Roller – found all over Southern Africa and is the national bird of Botswana

I have had many years of working experience out in the wilds of Africa – Southern, Eastern and Western. All experiences brought with them new skills and experiences. Above all, aside from the different wildlife, the array of different bird species I have had the privilege of viewing, photographing and studying, is paramount to a bucket list experience. Of course there are still so many more that I want to see and I have only viewed (not even) the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of birds in the world.

Often my friends will see my excitement and interest as I watch some bird activity going on around me and spot birds I haven’t seen for a while. It’s just one of those things. I can’t help but point out an amazing bird or some interesting interaction.

On seeing my enthusiasm, it does sometimes rub off on them and they start asking questions. This I find really enjoyable – passing on my knowledge to inspire others. So let’s start here shall we? Birding IS fun and here is why: –

Discover a New World

Who doesn’t want to discover new exciting worlds out there? The world of birds is colorful, energetic, harmonious (except for a few hideous calls out there) and forever providing new information and visuals.

Ground Hornbill
Ground Hornbill – There is even beauty in the not so picturesque

Some birds will come to nest in the exact same tree to breed year in and year out, while others might only flittingly pass through your vision for a only moment. You just never know what you’re going to get, and that in itself is exciting.

Explore New Places

Birds occur everywhere, even over the most remote parts of the ocean. We’ve all seen on Nat Geo Wild, BBC Wildlife and the like, many different habitats that birds occupy. In fact I would love to know how many wildlife documentary scenes don’t have birds in them, somewhere in the back ground even. Even the ones filmed about marine life often have a gannet or seagull around.

McCaw
Blue & Gold McCaw – You could always travel to South America to see one in the wild.

Imagine how many different countries, landscapes and wild areas you could explore once you really get into birding? Obviously, extensive travel may require large amounts of cash, but sometimes not. Start by exploring your own garden or local park, even your local forest or any outdoor area near you and move outwards from there.

Being Outdoors

If you don’t like being outdoors, I doubt you would have gotten this far into this article or even come across my website for that matter. So I don’t need to tell you the benefits of being outdoors.

Forest
The Great Outdoors – Feel the Freedom!

You know how good it feels to get out of your house into the sunshine. You know that your spirit lifts a little when you’re outside in open spaces and you know how wonderful it is to take in deep breath of fresh air. You also know how soothing it is for your soul to hear the sounds of nature around you.

Im’ so lucky I don’t need to tell you any of this though.

Spending Time with Loved-Ones

To be honest, I really don’t mind birding on my own, it can definitely be fun, but spending time outdoors with my other birding mates or my family who also love birding, is way better.

Narina Trogan
Narina Trogan – A sought after Southern African species for all Birders

The excitement of seeing a rare bird or a lifer (first time to see that particular species) or a regular visitor behaving in a way you haven’t seen before, makes it that more fun if you can share the experience with someone.

Find your birding mates or family members who are keen to join you and get out there to start sharing wonderful memories together.

Being Aware of Your Surroundings

When you become a keen birder you don’t only notice what’s around you on a superficial level, you become aware of all your surroundings. The reason, being is that you are looking deeper, much deeper into the trees, bushes,  water edges and even the sky around you while you’re listening out for any tell tale bird calls that you might recognise.

Pigeon
Even your everyday urbanized pigeons are beautiful to look at

Being more aware of your surroundings, and I’m not only talking about wild areas here, I’m talking about everywhere, makes for a more interesting walk, even to the shops and back.

Acquiring Knowledge

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge. It’s part of the human spirit’s desire for survival to keep moving forward and absorbing new skills and knowledge as we do. Isn’t it?

Vulture
White-backed Vulture soaring high in the sky – they can spot carrion from about 20km

Birding gives us the opportunity to learn about our natural world. Not only do we learn the names of the birds we spot, but also we are learning about their feeding and mating habits and their general behaviour, all their calls  – mating, territorial and alarm.  We are learning how they interact with the other birds and animals around them. We are learning all the time!

Birds are Beautiful

Who doesn’t want to see beautiful things? I know I do!

In this day and age when there is so much ugliness in the world we need to look for the beauty around us. Birds are beautiful so we can easily start there. If you are unaware, the males of the species generally, in almost all cases, are lot more vibrant in color than the females.

Starling
Greater Blue-eared Starling – one of the few exceptions where the females have the same plumage as the males

Some of the males during mating/courtship season can put on elaborate dancing displays that add to the beauty and fascination.

Secretary Birds
Male Secretary Bird displaying/courting during the nest building process

Birds across the world are made up of every colour across the spectrum. Sure some look dull, but if you look closely at the markings and colours you will find beauty in even the most unremarkable of bird species.

Yellow-billed Stork
The beautiful shades of pink on the Yellow-billed Stork’s plumage

Flashes of colour and feathers a-flitting, is all it takes to get me excited about birds.

Good for the Soul

To sum it all up, all of the points I have mentioned above are good for the soul. My soul is always needing new and exciting things to do. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy sitting on my bum watching Netflix, but I feel a constant yearning to feel free.

White-faced Duck
White-faced Whistling Ducks have a very high pitched whistle as their call – Great name for them!!
Hamerkop
A Hamerkop – translated to Hammerhead is often seen along water courses in Southern Africa

Birding gives me the freedom I crave. While I’m out looking for birds, I am at one with nature and I feel alive. I have a smile on my face and a peace in my heart. What more could one ask for.

Get out there and start experiencing the fun of birding and you’ll be addicted to the rush it gives you.

If you have any questions, leave a comment in the section below . I would love to hear from you. Even better, I would love to hear what makes birding fun for you. Please let me know. Thanks!

Happy Birding!!

Warm regards,

Matt.

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