My kid (15) and my husband are both obsessed with birds.
I have driven and flown them places to look at birds for many years. I have only remained sane by keeping a mental list of weird but fascinating things about this hobby, and I am ready to share them with you!
1. First, please don't say "birdwatching."
Birders go birding, and die a little inside when non-birders call it "birdwatching." I only put "birdwatching" in the title because my editor said people wouldn't understand it otherwise.
2. Birders are never defeated by lack of sleep.
3. When an unusual bird is spotted, or a common bird is spotted in an unusual place, the birders come out in DROVES.
4. Like when a Steller's sea eagle, normally seen in Asia, got lost and ended up in Maine in late 2021, more than 2,000 people traveled to Maine and Massachusetts to see her.
5. When American woodcocks showed up in Bryant Park in NYC for a few weeks in spring 2022, swarms of birders showed up, but I get that, because LOOK AT THEIR LITTLE DANCE
6. You may think that New York City, a concrete metropolis, is not good for birding, but it is, in fact, a world-class birding destination. Over 200 bird species can be spotted in Central Park alone, as it is a prime rest stop along the Atlantic bird migration route.
7. NYC birders have special names for dozens of different spots in Central Park that only birders know, basically a SECRET CODE for communicating bird locations. Like the Magic Bush.
8. And the Compost Heap.
9. The birding community is super friendly, locating birds for others (e.g. search #birdcp on Twitter for Central Park alerts) and helping to ID them, too.
So fitting that birders use the bird app. Other key apps are Merlin for ID'ing birds and eBird for logging your sightings and seeing others' sightings, both made by the Cornell Ornithology Lab. On eBird, you can compile your life list, or all the different species you've seen in your life, as well as year list, county list, etc. Young birders hang out on Discord.