(noun) The bird species that initially stimulates an interest in more serious bird watching or birding. Spark birds vary for every birder and might include a unique or rare bird sighting, a favorite and familiar bird species or a bird seen when introduced to the hobby by an experienced birder. For many birders, spark birds are unknown species that lead to a curiosity about identification, and after successfully identified, the beginning birder is curious to learn more about both familiar and unfamiliar species as they discover the diversity of birds.
It is not just the sight of a spark bird that may create an interest in birding. A unique song, unusual behavior or other observation might create interest in learning more about birds. For some birders, their spark bird is not the first species they are able to identify, but it is the first one they deliberately take steps to identify that isn't a familiar backyard bird.
After identifying a spark bird, a birder may simply be interested in putting out bird feeders and being a casual backyard birder, or a lifelong interest in dedicated birding and ornithology could begin. There are many types of birders, and all of them have a spark bird.
Photo – Blue Jay © Keith