Posted by Beth Anne Quinlan, PhD Avian Sciences on 10/3/2020 to Wild Birds
Gordon Lightfoot once said, "I'm not really a bird person or an Audubon guy who studies them, but as I was around them, they interested me."
This is Birdie Beth Anne and I'm here today to talk to you about misconceptions, myths, and mistakes that people have when starting out in bird watching.
One common misconception is that many people believe they can't enjoy bird watching if they can't identify the birds. As you probably know from personal experience, watching birds is enjoyable. You don't need to know which kind of birds they are. You just need to have fun.
A myth that I've heard a lot of people tell me about is that it's really difficult to identify wild birds. In actuality, most of the common birds such as the House Sparrow in the photo, or the chickadees in the video, are very easily identified once you learn what they look like. Yes, there are some birds that are difficult; leave those for the more advanced people, you'll get there.
A mistake many of my friends have made is that they don't want to go on bird walks because they claim they don't know enough about birds and they're afraid they're going to be embarrassed by their lack of knowledge. One time when I was in central Missouri, I had never led a bird walk and I went on a bird walk with a group of people, all of whom have led bird walks before and a couple of ornithologists were there who were among the top in the country. I was really excited to participate with them and I brought along my camera and my binoculars and a beat up field guide and we got on the bus and we got off in this great bird watching area and I saw a bird that I identified as a Lincoln Sparrow.
Of course all the top ornithologists were arguing about whether or not this was actually a Lincoln Sparrow. We got back in the bus, I got out my camera, I opened it up to the picture and sure enough, everybody was able to identify this was a Lincoln Sparrow in an area where they weren't supposed to be! So that goes to show that a person who is not as experienced in bird walks and not as experienced watching the birds can do just as good, if not a better, job of identifying the birds than the so-called experts.
Don't let your fears keep you from this relaxing pastime! If you'd like to learn more about birds, I love to send you my free newsletter! You can subscribe at https://www.cockatoocreations.com/newsletter.html.