Birdwatching can be one of the most rewarding hobbies to partake in. In our January feature, we share how you can get started.
Birdwatching. It’s likely not the sexiest of activities in your mind. In fact, you have probably heard it used in a joke about lame or boring ways to spend time.
And yet … people of all ages con- sider it a deep, riveting passion. They wait for months, even years, to catch a glimpse of rare birds. They purchase all kinds of expensive viewing and image-capturing equipment to see the fleeting animals closer and extend the moment further.
So how does this hobby become an obsession? Most of the time, very organically. Maybe a nest popped up on your property. Perhaps an interesting bird you have never seen before piqued your interest and led to 30 minutes of Googling. There might have been a parent or grandparent who passed on their love of observing the little creatures.
However it started, hardcore birders view each day at their backyard feeders as an adventure. They love identifying species, tracking migratory patterns, recognizing specific songs and calls, and so much more. There is an unexpected and divine element.
In this feature, we highlight the birdwatching scene in Oklahoma City. Located in an all-seasons climate between the extreme cold and the extreme heat, we are fortunate to be able to see a large variety of birds. So next time a swoop or a tweet comes your way, you can approach it with fresh eyes. But be careful—ornithology just might turn into your new thing.
If you are looking for something peaceful to do right at home—look no further! Setting up a few bird feeding stations around your house is enough to turn your backyard into a nature viewing center. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:
1. Observe your property and take note of the natural attractions it has. Do you have a lot of wide open space? Is there a water source nearby? Are there mature trees?
2. Decide what type of birds you would like to attract. Do you fancy tiny songbirds or do you have a soft spot for the clever crows?
3. Purchase the correct type of feeder. The options are endless; nectar feeders, window feeders, squirrel deterrent, tray, platform, suet … the list goes on
and on. Just make sure you buy the type that your desired visitors prefer. Some feeders will need shepherd hooks or adhesives.
4. Purchase or make the corresponding food to go with the feeder. Some common options include homemade nectar, black oil sunflower seed, mealworms, and suet.
5. Set it out and watch the magic happen! It may take a few weeks but if you supply it, they will come.
Optional: binoculars, bird bath, bird house, wildlife cam, and a viewing almanac.
All types and species of American birds depend on human feeders for survival. It is important to follow proper cleanliness and sanitation guidelines to avoid spreading diseases. After a while, you will notice the same birds year after year. In the case of hummingbirds, the same bird will come to your house every summer for up to 12 years, bringing joy each time.
“Sometimes I think that the point of birdwatching is not the actual seeing of the birds, but the cultivation of patience. Of course, each time we set out, there’s a certain amount of expectation we’ll see something, maybe even a species we’ve never seen before, and that it will fill us with light. But even if we don’t see anything remarkable—and sometimes that happens—we come home filled with light anyway.” –Author and Avid Birder Lynn Thomson