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Types of Birders

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There are approximately 10,000 species of birds throughout the world and there are nearly as many different types of birders depending on how each individual defines their hobby. What type of birder are you? The answer may not be as clear as you think – just as many bird species can be challenging to identify, it can also be difficult to determine what type of birder you are, especially when so many birders are really many species of hobbyists.

Bird Watcher

A bird watcher enjoys both backyard birds and whatever species they may see while traveling or visiting parks, but they do not necessarily plan their vacations or activities with the intent of seeing new or unusual birds. They also do not deliberately stock feeders with different items to attract a range of species, nor do they deliberately plan a landscape that is first and foremost suitable to the birds. A bird watcher is familiar with local, common birds but may not be able to easily identify rare or intermittent visitors.

Backyard Birder

A backyard birder enjoys the birds that visit nearby and actively seeks to attract a range of species to the yard through different feeders, birdhouses and a bird-friendly landscape. They can frequently identify both everyday and seasonal species, as well as some of the more unusual guests to their yard. This is the easiest type of birder to be, because birding in the backyard does not necessarily require specialized equipment beyond a general field guide and a basic set of binoculars. While this is the first step for many dedicated birders, it is rarely the last step because seeing new species and observing their behavior can be an exciting, addictive beginning to a lifelong passion.

Birder

A true “birder” actively observes and studies different birds in order to see new species and to learn more about their behavior, habitats and personalities. Birders often plan travel to festivals to see more birds and they may take photography or basic ornithology classes to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of the hobby. Birders may also participate in organized competitions and birding marathons to see a wide number of species. Birders can generally identify every species on their life list, though they may consult with numerous field guides for certainty.

Twitcher

A twitcher’s favorite bird is the newest one they’ve seen. These passionate birders actively seek to add more birds to their life list, and they may travel extensively when rare or unusual birds are reported. Keeping a single checklist may not be sufficient – twitchers often keep checklist for particular seasons or locations to keep track of just where they’ve seen the many birds on their life list.

Citizen Scientist

A citizen scientist is a serious birder, often active in multiple bird conservation and education events. These birders participate in annual counts and report their findings to the appropriate organizations, and they also seek to promote conservation of bird species and their essential habitats. A citizen scientist may organize educational or birding events, or they may be volunteers with various aviaries or rehabilitation centers.

Ornithologist

An ornithologist is a professional birder with advanced scientific training about not only bird species but also about behavior, anatomy, physiology and bird species history. Being an ornithologist requires years of higher education, and many ornithologists lead extensive research projects to promote bird conservation. Many ornithologists specialize in very rare or endangered bird species rather than focusing on more common birds.

What type of birder are you? Cast your vote to define your birding self!
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