20 Birdwatching Terms

Birdwatching is a popular hobby enjoyed by people of all ages. If you have never tried it before, or if you are new to the game, this article will introduce 10 terms that birdwatchers use. It’s important to know these words in order to identify birds correctly and understand their behavior!

  • Burndown: the act of counting how many birds one has seen at a birding location.
  • Big Day: the pursuit to see as many species of birds in 24-hours as possible, usually achieved by traveling great distances or going to multiple locations.
  • Cosmic: when two people who have not met before are looking for different types of birds and somehow end up in the same place at the same time.
  • Crippler: a bird that is hard to find, or one which has only been seen once. It can be a rare or beautiful bird that leaves you in shock.
  • Duff gen: Finding rare birds, or determining areas where the animals occur.
  • Glimps: a quick glimpse at an out-of-the way bird from afar (often seen as they fly overhead). It often goes unnoticed by serious birders who are looking for other types of species, but it might be one that has been sought after for years! A few minutes later when you look back up to where it was flying before, you cannot find any trace of it. Glimpses must always be reported because sometimes these sightings end up being new species to the global birding community!
  • Gripping off: a word used by birdwatchers when they have not seen any birds for days, weeks, or months. They are gripped with anticipation and anxiety because their skills are diminishing (often due to lack of practice). This is also known as “grip.”
  • Lifer : First-time sightings of a bird species.
  • Mega : Mega describes a very rare bird in any area, one that you’ve always been dreaming to see.
  • Nemesis bird: A rare/vagrant migrant that you have been looking for and cannot find anywhere. This is also known as the “one that got away.”
  • Patagonia Picnic Table Effect: This is a phenomenon that happens when a single rare bird can cause a spike in the number of species discovered within an area.
  • Peeps: The sound made by shorebirds pecking on small invertebrates (often found at mudflats).This word can be used to describe any number of other sounds made by birds! Used as a noun, it often refers to the type of food eaten during winter months, such as bayberries.
  • Pish: The sound often made by flocks of birds flying overhead, or a high-pitched call that is used in courtship rituals and territorial aggression to defend territory.
  • Skulker: A bird that hides from view but can’t be seen for very long due to its camouflage; also known as “skulk.”
  • Spark Bird: A species that trigger a lifelong passion for birding. 
  • Stringer: A birder is an individual who aims to make rare bird sightings seem commonplace in the presence of his/her peers. These individuals are known as ‘stringers.’ Their goal? To draw attention and show their expertise among other avid bird watchers, by purposely inventing a sighting or inflating numbers on birds they have seen rather than just reporting them honestly.
  • Trash Bird: Any type of species which has been seen by many and is nothing new to anyone else who might have gone looking for one before! This term came about because these types of birds are usually found near garbage cans or landfills where no other ground-dwellers could survive (hence how they became associated with trash). It can also refer to any animal you find while cleaning up after others – this means they were touched by another human! You’re supposed to call them “trash,” so nobody will try to claim them as their own.
  • Twitcher: Someone who is always looking for a new species of bird and has the patience to wait around all day in hopes they might find one! This term can also be used to describe someone who spends an excessive amount of time on social media or constantly checks what others are up to online when it’s not necessary. Twitchers have many interests, but none more than birds because this is typically where most of their energy goes – you will only see them at bars with friends if there is a rare bird sighting nearby. They may sometimes get called “twits” by people who don’t understand how much work they put into finding these hidden gems (or hints) about the natural world every day through their research.
  • SOB (spouse of a birder): Someone who spends an immense amount of time with their significant other, and they are always looking for new birds to see together! They might not have much patience for anything else in life besides watching TV shows about different animal species or reading books about the natural world – but this is all necessary if you want to keep up with your spouse’s hobbies. It can be difficult when going on long trips without getting any alone-time from one another; some partners may even take breaks so they don’t get too bored/crazy during these periods. These couples often share birding stories that nobody will ever find interesting because it just doesn’t happen as frequently anymore (as we’re living in a time where there are more species of birds than ever before) and they’re always looking for new ones to see together!

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