Thursday, January 21, 2016

Begin to Bird

Most every day I sit at my kitchen table and observe the birds who gather at our backyard feeders.  According to, I am a birdwatcher – a person who identifies and observes birds in their natural habitat as recreation.

In an article about Birdwatching on Wikipedia, we find that

“The term "birdwatching" appeared for the first time as the title of a book "Bird Watching" by Edmund Selous in 1901. In North America, the identification of birds, once thought possible only by shooting was made possible by the emergence of optics and field identification guides. The earliest field guide in the US was Birds through an Opera Glass (1889) by Florence Bailey.”

The article goes on to state that for years birdwatching in America was popular primarily in the eastern seaboard states.   The combination of more readily available binoculars following World War II and automobile helped spread birdwatching and increased travel to view birds.

A study by U.S. Fish & Wildlife  is cited by Wikipedia as estimating that currently 20% of Americans are birdwatchers.

On two Saturdays, January 23 and January 30, you can join the 20%! Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge will offer Begin to Bird.  The first session will cover choosing birdwatching equipment and the second will cover identification keys to birds common in our area.  You can register online, call the Refuge, 903 786 2826,  or just show up at 10 am in the Visitor Center Meeting Room at the Refuge.

Then, on Saturday, February 13, you can practice!  The 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count is set for February 12 - 15 this year, and Hagerman and the Friends  will hold a GBBC Walk, led by Dr. Wayne Meyer, at 8 am on that date, weather permitting.  Participants will meet BY 8 am at the Visitor Center and return in time for the Second Saturday presentation.

In case you are wondering, the term birdwatching can be all inclusive or may be used to describe the casual hobbyist v. “birder”, whose approach is more serious and includes keeping multiple lists, a collection of field guides, the latest optics, and travel to see specific birds. (

Backyard Bird Photos by Dick Malnory

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