WATCH ABOVE: Did you know that more time is spent birding in Canada than gardening? Trish Kozicka explains how the hobby’s popularity has soared over the last few years.
TORONTO — Birding (or birdwatching) has become one of the fastest growing hobbies in North America. As the name suggests, it’s the act of watching, monitoring, feeding, filming, or photographing birds — of which there are more than 450 different kinds in Canada.
“Birding is really taking off. It’s a huge trend,” said Kyla Makela with Bird Studies Canada, a national charity for bird research, citizen science and conservation.
One in five Canadians are doing it. And according to the most recent Canadian Nature Survey, birdwatchers will spend an average of 133 days in a year on the activity. That’s more time than is spent on any other nature activity — including gardening, which people dedicate more than 70 days a year to, on average.
Who’s doing it?
She believes birding can be especially fun for children.
“Once kids are introduced to the birds around them, they’re just kind of hooked for life.”
“They take to it so quickly, trying to identify the different bird species and all the different details.”
WATCH: A Nova Scotia town is one of the most popular destinations for birdwatchers
Birding for beginners
So, how can you start?
Makela’s first suggestion is to get to know the birds in your backyard. To do that, you can go out with a group of birders (you can search for them on Facebook). Another easy first step is to buy a book, or just download an app.
“There’s one I love called the Merlin Bird ID app and it’s free to download. That walks you through a basic bird identification of what size is the bird, what colour is it, where are you seeing it and what is it doing?
“And from four simple questions, it’s able to output a really good guess on what bird you’re seeing.”
You can join the latter if you plan to feed birds in your backyard. The organization then sends you a research kit with instructions on how to identify birds.
Did you know that Canada doesn’t have an official bird? Canadian Geographic plans to change that with its National Bird Project, which encourages Canadians to vote for our national bird. So far, the loon is in first place.
Infographic by: Leo Kavanagh