Birding: A potted history

Updated: 2013-04-05 07:43

(China Daily)

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Unlike professional ornithologists or biologists, who engage in the study of birds via formal scientific methods, most birdwatchers pursue the activity for recreational and social reasons.

The term appeared for the first time in 1901 as the title of the book Bird Watching by the British ornithologist Edmund Selous.

When cheap air-travel became feasible in the 1960s, the cost of flying to remote birding destinations became a possibility for large numbers of people.

The increased mobility of birdwatchers ensured that books such as Where to Watch Birds, published in 1967 by John Gooders, became best-sellers.

In North America, the pastime was focused around the eastern seaboard during the early and mid-20th century.

The organization and networking of enthusiasts was fostered through organizations such as the National Audubon Society, founded in the United States in 1905. It has contributed to the conservation and restoration of ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and biological diversity.

Today, bird watching is a popular hobby globally and focuses on connecting with nature while respecting birds and their natural habitat. The history of the activity shows people have developed a greater interest in birds over time, but have also become more conscious of ensuring that they are not harmed, either by the hobby or research.

Source: National Audubon Society website

(China Daily 04/05/2013 page3)