Guide to Birds and Birding

Birds are warm-blooded species, that lay eggs in order to reproduce, they are characterized by feathers, hollow bones and forelimbs that are modified as wings. They range in size from tiny hummingbirds to humongous Ostriches and Emus. There are approximately 10 000 bird species in the world that are known to man, making them the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates.

Birds are very different from each other, some birds species feed on nectar whereas other feed on plants, seeds, insects, rodents, fish, carrions, or other birds. Most birds are active during the day and sleeping at night. Some birds such as owls and nightjars are active during the night time (nocturnal).

Many of these feathered friends migrate extensive distances to make use of the most favorable habitats, while others spend almost all their time at sea.

Common characters of birds include a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, light strong skeletons and a high metabolic rate. Most birds can fly and also use this method for helping them to find their food and the flee from predators. Flightless species include birds such as penguins, ostriches, kiwis and dodos.

Bird watching or birding (ornithology) is a very popular hobby that includes the observation and study of birds and their habitats. The best times of the year for bird watching in the temperate zones are during spring and fall migration, when the greatest variety of birds may be observed as they make their way north or south. Early morning is the best time for bird watching since many birds are then at their hungriest, searching most actively for food. Birding is usually one of the more relaxing outdoor activities, however some very serious birding enthusiasts will travel very long distances too see a new specie to add to the list of birds they have personally observed.

Sea watching is another type of bird watching where observers based at a coastal watch point, such as a headland, watch birds out at, or moving over, the sea.

Equipment that is usually used for bird watching includes binoculars and a telescope or spotting scope with tripod, a notepad, and one or more field guides.