Birding is a strange activity. There are some who consider it a highly competitive sport. For example, who will see the most species in one place for a year. Some ornithologists think this is a negative way to look at birding. To them , birding is a way to get out in nature and find critters they love.
Some ornithologists could watch one bird all day. Others flip to the other side of the spectrum and want to see a bunch of species or all that is possible to see. There are those bird watchers who are sedentary. They watch them in their own back yard or from feeders. Dr. Harris defines a birder as someone who actually travels places to seek bird species.
Most birders do keep a life list of species that they encounter. Dr. Harris likes to report his findings on eBird. It is sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It is a great way of cataloging them and you can also report if you found them while traveling or stationary.
The fun thing about the eBird site according to Dr. Harris is that scientists as himself can scrutinize the data from all around the world. The data on the site can be explored and one can find the closet record near them within a 30 day period and get GPS coordinates to the place where the bird sighting was encountered.
Birding can be thought of as a behavior like a collector. Many birders challenge their own ability to “add” to their life list or collection. Dr. Harris has the ability and discerning ear to ID a bird from hearing alone. It is quite a knack to have and does make his colleagues frustrated at his ability to do that. That is of course just another form of the competition!
Birding essentially can be just about seeing the bird and it could be any bird. Other people are all about the rare bird. They just want to list them and then check them off their list and barely view the bird again. Dr. Harris is the kind of birder who watches for hours on end. Most are in between though and do not watch for hours, but they will stay longer than a lister.
Good Luck all with your bird watching and if you want to visit the site I mentioned above you will find it to be quite informative and you to can report your bird findings. You can learn the protocols right on their site!
Try it! Just by counting you will start to learn all of the most common species in your area. Thank you Dr. Jeff Harris for your input on this post who is a scientist, researcher, professor, radio personality, honey bee breeder for resistant parasitic mite.