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An Introduction to Ornithology - Bird Watching

By: Rick Chapo
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We humans are great at giving sophisticated titles to things we enjoy. In fact, here is an introduction to Ornithology, better known as bird watching.

As with many sophisticated terms ending in "ology", ornithology is Greek in nature. It means the study of birds. While there are certainly many professional and academic groups focusing on ornithology, it is one of those rare fields where amateurs far out number the pros. About the only other field where this is the case is astronomy.

For amateurs, bird watching is simply the act of... well, watching birds. It can be pursued in exotic foreign lands like the Amazon in South Africa, not the bookstore on your computer. For most, it is a leisurely hobby pursued in areas around where you live. Heck, you can even do it from your backyard.

In modern society, we rarely take the time to really notice what is going on around us. Bird watching is a chance to do just that. If you ever want a hypnotic experience, just sit and watch a hummingbird at work. You will quickly notice the ballet it performs and be amazed at the rate it flaps its small wings to remain both aloft and maneuver. Watch for more than five minutes and you will be hooked on bird watching.

The beauty of bird watching is you can approach it in a variety of ways. The first time out, most simply focus on sighting different birds. As you get into it, you will want to keep a bird watching journal in which you will keep a list of the birds you have seen. This is known as the "life list" among bird watchers because it gets thicker and thicker as you record more sighting through your life. Yes, you will get that hooked. I know people that carry their journal with them everywhere, even on business trips.

As you get more addicted to birding, you will start to become an expert. You can stick with just sighting birds, but many get more involved. They start noting behavioral patterns ranging from migration to breading to singing. The choice is entirely yours. Next thing you know, you will be using your vacation time to visit locations where you have an opportunity to sight rare, exotic birds. At this point, there is no turning back. You are a birder through and through.

Simply put, bird watching is an inexpensive, practical and enjoyably hobby by just about any calculation. Whether you choose to call it Ornithology or birding, there is no debate that it will hook you.

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