Bird watching is the observation of birds as a
hobby or as a serious study. It may be done by naked eye, binocular or telescope. Study of birds is called ornithology.
The first use of the word-bird-watching was done by Edmund selous. The term birding was used in the sense of hunting with fire arms. Shakespeare in his drama-The merry wives of Windsor has written-
“She laments Sir… her husband goes this morning a-birding. “The earliest reference to bird watching is traced to the eighteenth century in the works of Gilbert white. Thomas Berwick, George montage and John close. The study of birds became increasingly popular in Victorian era in England. In its initial phase bird watching was a pastime rather than a serious study. But as time went on bird watching became a serious study. Birds are curious creatures of the world. These are mainly arboreal in their habitat. That means these live on the branches of the trees. They are movers in the open sky. Their nature and style of living attract and appeal to human beings. Hence the need of bird watching. Birds are children of Nature. They live a instinctive life. No training is needed. They have got it from birth. They live a natural life. So it is interesting to humans.
There are about 10,000 (ten thousand) birds species in the world. Out of that only seven thousand have been seen by bird watchers. Many bird weathers have spent their entire life to observe birds. The first person was Stuart Keith. Phoebe snuit singer spent her life in travelling various parts of the world for bird watching. The bird watcher David Hunt who was leading a bird tour in Corbett National Park was killed by a Tiger in Feb 1985. Tom Gallic, an English man became the first bird watcher to have observed 9000 species of birds. A. O. Hume, who was the founder of Indian National congress was a birds specialist. He has written book regarding birds titled-Stray Feathers. For centuries birds have fascinated mankind. Birds appeal to humans for their ability to fly, their ability to build extraordinarily intricate nests and for the brilliant colours of their plumage features we are thankful to birds for ten reasons which are as below-
(1) They provide pest control Birds save potato feeds, fruit orchards etc from insect devastation.
(2) (2) They are money makers.
(3) They clean up.
(4) They spread seeds
(5) They announce danger
(6) They pollinate
(7) They help farmers.
(8) They sing and please us.
So Avian friends are our inevitable to us. They are sojourners with the Human kind. Birds have instinct and intuition which we humans do not have. We should learn from them and be alert in our way of life. In Ayodhya, birds had alerted king Dasaratha for correct administration. So we must study birds behaviour properly.
(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)
Radhakanta Seth is a former Income tax officer in Sambalpur. He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published in Kolkata.
He can be reached at [email protected]