A rather old pastime that has gained popularity among young and old is birding.

While bird watching has always been a backyard activity, it has become such a popular hobby that there are now birding vacations. These trips are designed specifically to attract bird enthusiasts in locations where many species can be observed.

Birding gets folks outside. It puts them in touch with nature and can be done locally or as a day trip. It’s also educational and can enhance cooperation skills and family/friend relationships. Birders are usually environmentally conscientious, and watching birds improves the senses. These are just a few of the things that make birding a wonderful amusement.

Here are a few helpful hints from birding.com for first-time bird watchers:

Read up on birding, utilizing magazines, books or websites.

Obtain a field guide and binoculars.

Try birding in your backyard first by attracting them with feeders, water sources and native plants.

Educate yourself on types of birds; learn to recognize their songs, maybe even get an app on your smartphone to help with this.

Journal/record the species you observe.

Look into joining a local group by checking with the Audubon Society.

All that’s left is to plan a trip and get out there. It may be just what you and the kids/grandkids need to occupy yourselves and fill in free time spots.

And don’t forget to look for other learning opportunities while you’re out there, such as outdoor safety, park etiquette, finding tracks, learning plant species and photography skills.

Finally, watch for opportunities to become involved in birding festivals and annual bird counts, which occur several times each year.

You never know, birding may become a new family tradition.

Happy spring.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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