Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Birders clubs -- beyond the binoculars

(ARA) - Bird watching is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the country. It's easy, inexpensive and relaxing. Best of all, wild birds are beautiful and fascinating to watch. They're also wonderful to listen to, and with more than 800 species in North America alone, there is something for everyone.

Bird watching (or birding, for short) has been popular for hundreds of years, sparking the curiosity of everyone from scientists to conservationists to bird enthusiasts. No matter what their motivation, a birder is simply someone who enjoys watching wild birds. Whether you watch them while hiking in the woods or sitting in your backyard, practically anyone can consider themselves a birder -- and more people do every day. In fact, birding clubs are set up all around the world. From historic clubs like the National Audubon Society to up-and-coming ones like the Wild Delight Birders Club, thousands of bird lovers continually come together to celebrate their outdoor pets.

The National Audubon Society is considered by many as the nation's premier birders club. Established in 1905, this organization is made up of more than 500 local chapters. Today, the National Audubon Society engages millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

The Wild Delight Birders Club is a great example of another national birders club, one that emphasizes fun and aims to make bird watching and bird feeding as enjoyable as possible. This club allows members to enter photo contests, learn about wild birds through interesting videos and articles and provides an avenue for birders to share information through an easy-to-use online message board.

Throughout the U.S. the number of birders -- and clubs -- continues to grow every year. For birders, there are many things a club enables you to do -- access valuable resources, stay updated on trends, develop birding skills, be a part of conservation movements and have fun. However, one of the biggest benefits of joining a birders club is networking. Birding is an excellent way to meet people who share a common interest and, in many cases, develop lasting friendships.

However, unlike clubs established solely for entertainment, birders clubs are unique because of the scientific data they often provide. Ornithology (the scientific study of wild birds) is a science with a relatively short history, and many of the observations made and shared in birders clubs are very helpful to the research conducted by scientists. Everyone from amateurs to professionals has the ability to contribute their knowledge.

Take, for instance, Project Feederwatch, an annual, winter-long study of birds operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. This study asks “feeder watchers” throughout North America to count and report the birds they see at feeders in their backyards. This data is then used by scientists to help track broad-scale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. Anyone can participate in Project Feederwatch by visiting www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/.

Another example is Project Wildbird, a scientific study on wild bird feeding. By utilizing participation from birding organizations all over the country, data is being compiled and studied on the feeds and feeders preferred by wild birds in different eco-regions throughout the different seasons. It is known today as one of the most comprehensive studies on bird feeding.

Fortunately, most birders are eager to share their knowledge, providing a vast resource of birding information -- not only to scientists, but also to beginning birders looking to get their feet wet. Furthermore, in today's modern world, organizations like the Wild Delight Birders Club have message boards where information can be shared instantly. There's no doubt that belonging to a birders club can be a great way to enhance your birding knowledge and participation in birding activities.

No matter what type of birder you are, joining a club is a great way to share your interests, learn more about wild birds and have some fun. By doing some quick searching, you'll find that, whether you're a beginner or a serious birder, there's a club for everyone.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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