If you are looking for a new hobby, one that gets you out and in touch with nature, yet is easy on the body, you might consider learning how to bird watch. What is bird watching? Bird watching, often shortened to simply "birding" is a form of recreational wildlife observation. Bird watching enthusiasts (known as "birders") seek out locations where birds nest or congregate and often note which species they see as well as the location in a notebook or journal. For many, the goal is to see as many different bird species as possible, almost like a real-life version of the popular video game Pokemon!
So now that you have learned the answer to "What is bird watching?" you might be wondering how to get started. Fortunately, birding is a very easy hobby to get involved with. You don't even have to trek far into the wilderness (unless you enjoy it) as many birds can be seen from local parks, lakes, ponds, or nature areas.
First, you will need to find out what kind of birds you might find in your area. For this, look for a bird identification book. These books are available for nearly every locale on Earth. Try to pick one that is specific to your region. For example, if you live in the state of Oregon, a guide either specific to that state or the Pacific Northwest will be more helpful than a guide to all North American birds. You will be flipping through this book frequently as you try to identify the birds you spot, and a region-specific book will be much more useful than one where half the birds won't be found within 500 miles of your current location. Often these books will also include a checklist in the back, so you can check off each bird as you spot them in the wild.
Next, you will want to look into getting a pair of binoculars. While it is possible to bird watch with the naked eye, it is more difficult. For one, many birds are quite small, and will fly off well before you get close enough to identify them. If you want to be able to tell whether that tiny brown blob in the distance is a sparrow or a wren, you will need a way to see the bird clearly. For those just getting started, a simple, inexpensive, and low-powered pair of binoculars should be sufficient. However, as you get more involved, you will probably want to upgrade.
A good guide and a pair of binoculars are all you need to get started with birding, however, there are a few other items that may be helpful. Some people like to carry a journal on their bird watching trips. While many identification guides have a checklist you can use, a notebook or journal lets you document more detail, such as location, time of day, or any other information you deem important. You may also wish to purchase a small, handheld recording device for recording bird calls or bird song.
Once you start getting outside and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, you will feel a sense of relaxation that is hard to find today. Now that you have learned exactly what bird watching is, grab a pair of binoculars and head straight for your nearest park. You won't regret it.