Why Ornithology?

 Ornithology comes from the late 16th-century Latin ornithologia meaning "bird science" from the Greek ornis ("bird") and logos ("theory, science, thought").

Why study or just watch birds? It's a good question. I have three answers. First, it's enjoyable. Birdwatching is the fastest growing outdoor sport in the U.S. and U.K. People birdwatch every day and even travel the world just to see new birds. It's challenging and exciting and the birds themselves are attractive and interesting. Many studies have demonstrated that birdwatching brings pleasure, reduces stress, and provides another reason to go outside and even get a bit of exercise. But even if you have physical limitations, you can birdwatch by looking out your window as there are birds almost everywhere. it's convenient - so easy to do with so little preparation.Birdwatching is challenging, but you can learn at your own pace. It's inexpensive - all you need are binoculars (you can watch birds without them, but it's a lot more difficult) and a bird guide - a paper one or an app on your phone. It's educational - not only will you learn birds, but all kinds of things about the forest or wherever else you trek. It's always changing; as the seasons change, so does the avifauna (the variety of birds in a particular area).

Second, birdwatching gets people interested in the outdoors. Not only are there birds in the grassland or forest, but trees, wildflowers, and lots of other creatures. It opens the eyes of many observers to the wonder of the natural world and encourages them to understand why they should protect the environment.

Third, birds are ecological indicators- any changes in bird behavior or populations are a signal to us that the environment is changing and probably not in a good direction.Perhaps the best known example is the  “canary in a coal mine”  story. Since canaries are more susceptible to gases like carbon monoxide and methane than humans, miners would put canaries in coal mines. If the birds began to show signs of poisoning, it would give miners a chance to escape from the mines before they too succumbed. 

Some folks get very enthusiastic, even obsessively so, about birdwatching. They not only keep a "life list" of all the bird they have ever seen, but a country list, state list, county list, zoo list, and even one for the birds seen on TV. None of there are required or necessary, of course. Birdwatching is just plain fun, so enjoy it as intensely or casually as you like.

We watch birds for fun, but, again, these wonderful creatures are essential in helping us understand and conserve our precious environment.

Read on. There are dozens of pages of good information on all aspects of birds and more will be added all the time. The pages are generally short, meant to be read in a few short minutes so that you can absorb the information with little effort.