By Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.

As one of the most popular retirement activities, birdwatching can combine a nature hike, a social event, a picnic and other fun activities all in one. It’s important to try new things as you age, and birdwatching will provide you with a hobby that stimulates your mind, body and spirit, making it a perfect activity for keeping you young both in body and in spirit.

Birder vs. Birdwatcher

What’s the difference? Dedication. A birdwatcher is considered a casual hobbyist by a birder, who delves into the science on many levels. Birders take long trips specifically designed to catalog birds or help with conservation efforts. Birdwatchers often enjoy scouting for birds while hiking, or setting up desired habitats in their gardens or backyards.

You don’t have to become a dedicated birder during your retirement years; start taking walks in the right areas and see how far your hobby develops. Don’t worry about the labels and do what comes naturally.

Tools You Need for Birdwatching

Unlike many other hobbies, you can pick up birdwatching right away. It’s a skill that you develop as you go, becoming more adept at spotting creatures in their environment, deciphering body structure, wing cuts, songs, the difference in beaks, molting, migration patterns and other key elements. Developing these skills will keep your eyesight challenged and keep you paying attention at a high level, which many retirees automatically start to let slide.

The following items will help you get started in this fun hobby.


Pick a pair with a magnification to enhance, not strain, your eyesight, and with comfortable lenses that rest easily against the eyes or glasses. Also note that most birdwatchers want a focus option of 10 feet or less. It might be helpful to stop by a local camera shop or sporting goods store first to examine a few pairs. Then, if you like, you can shop websites like or buy your set in-store. An average pair costs $100, but price will vary depending on features. Aficionados also use telescopes and digital cameras to capture their sightings.

Birding Book

There are state- or region-specific guides, country-based, good portable field books and bird-specific varieties. If you’re exploring fields and trails near home, contact your state’s department of natural resources to request birding materials and find out when they host free lectures on indigenous wildlife. Many beginners also rely on the Golden Field Guides’ Birds of North America, which has helpful maps, song recognition phonetics, gender and generational plumage guides, and, best of all, fits into a coat pocket.

As your intention grows, you might want to spend a few winter nights curled up with National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. At nearly 500 pages, it’s not the…

This article was sourced from lovetoknow.

One Reply to “How to Get Started With Birdwatching”

  1. I just moved to a new place with a screened in porch and the birds are everywhere. I love listening and watching them. I don’t know a lot of the species but your article was what I really needed. Thanks for the info. I will be buying binoculars soon.

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