What is birding?

Expert's answer 0 + –

With the beginning of the warm season, birding competitions were held all over the country. This is the name of amateur ornithology — a hobby that at the same time helps scientists, as it allows them to collect information valuable for science. 

 Yulia Gorelova —          director of the Birds and People Non-Commercial Partnership for the Promotion of Ornithology, Expert of the Ecological Project “Territory of lapwings” social investment program “Formula of good deeds”:

— Birding — is the observation of birds in nature and the registration of their species on the basis of competitions. The direction has existed for a very long time, at the moment it is one of the most common hobbies: there are more than 80 million birders — people in the world who watch birds in their free time. It's like collecting. An amateur ornithologist, discovering a new species of birds for himself, makes a contribution to his own collection: someone collects stamps, someone collects — badges, and some replenish the lists of birds. 

In Russia, the popularity of birding is also growing, this is facilitated by various forms of support. The promoter is, in particular, a business that is interested in the preservation of flora and fauna in the regions of its activity. So, for example, it turned out in Tobolsk, where the enterprise of the largest petrochemical company operates. 82 species of birds, including lapwings, live on the territory of the enterprise and near it. And the company, implementing the “Lipwing Territory” project, began to explore how birds live in the vicinity of production. A “hot line” was launched for employees to call and report a new nest or birds in need of assistance. Educational materials have been released. Then, local schools were invited to participate in the observations. Later, to the project «Territory of Lapwings» other cities joined: in 2022, competitions were also held in Tomsk, Dzerzhinsk, Kstov, Svobodny.

These are the rules of the competition. Teams must photograph as many birds as possible in three hours. Then, over the course of three days, the participants identify the birds from the pictures and fill out the so-called checklist, which already contains the species of the area. Each bird is assigned a certain number of points. The team that manages to score the most points wins.

For schoolchildren, this is a kind of career guidance. It encourages children and adolescents to engage in field biology. Initially involved in the study of birds because of competitions, many of them subsequently conduct real research.

And every year in October we take part in the Eurasian bird census. Children from different parts of the country, together with teachers, take to the streets during the autumn migration of birds and count the number of individuals of each species they meet. In the process, they learn to better identify birds and improve their birder skills each time. The data they collect is then validated by professional ornithologists who act as judges at the competitions and advise the participants. 

But birding has other important tasks besides education. This hobby makes a significant contribution to the development of ornithology. There is such a thing as “civil science” — conducting scientific research with the involvement of ordinary people, amateurs. Volunteers count birds at annual events. Without them, scientists would not have been able to obtain these data, because there are much fewer ornithologists than volunteers participating in bird monitoring. 

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