Does it go without saying that bird watching is an outdoor activity?  Sure, if you sit on your porch and look up for long enough, you may spot something interesting flying overhead.  More than likely, though, all you’ll get for your trouble is a neck cramp.  If you want to see birds, you need to meet them in their element.

This is a good thing.  Few things are as nourishing to the body, mind, and soul as a direct experience of the natural world.  We all need wild places.  Part of the beauty of these birding excursions is the guaranteed variety of your surroundings.  If you want to see waterfowl, explore a marsh or wetland.  For shorebirds, hit the beach.  Warblers and tree-clingers love trees, so plan a trip to the nearest forest.  And when migration season rolls around, and the valleys are rich with raptors, you would be wise to climb a mountain and enjoy the view.

Birding does not have to be an extreme sport.  There are plenty of low-impact opportunities to spot birds in parks and sanctuaries in nearly every community.  However, for those of you that are willing to work up a sweat, the deeper you get into the wilderness, the closer you will be to the places that many rare birds dwell.  The added bonus of observing a bird in its natural setting, far from the chaos of the modern world, is priceless.

This is not to say that interested parties cannot watch birds from the comfort of their sofas.  Backyard birding is very popular and affords birders a chance to enjoy their hobby even when they cannot escape domestic responsibilities.  But for most of us, the view from our windows is not enough.  That’s when it’s time to pack up the birding gear and go.  Have you noticed how, after the field guides and optics, birding equipment is very similar to hiking equipment?  So grab your sunscreen and bug spray, put on your best boots and get out there.  The fresh air will do you good.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.