My interest in birds came from my father who would always have a feeder set out to attract birds. On the other hand he shot them too when they ate cherries from his awesome cherry tree or pilfered fruit from his plum or peach trees. Thus at a young age I saw birds (dead albeit) up close and also learned to respect and appreciate those that were not of the variety inclined to eat cherries or other fruits from afar. I also learned the names of birds at a young age since I’d hear my father exclaim ” that !#$&* catbird is eating my cherries again!”. I then would hear the pop of a pellet rifle and was smart enough to put two and two together when I saw the dead bird – so I think the first bird I knew about was a cherry eating catbird. Besides, who as a child did not lie back on the grass looking upward imagining how wonderful it might be to escape the earths gravitational pull and soar like a bird. Below is a scanned photo of me as a child during one of my first up close experiences with birds.
Since that time I have always been curious about the identity of a bird I might see somewhere and have spent varied amounts of time watching them over the years, mostly as an activity ancillary to another sport or hobby. As birding scales nicely as one ages, I have gradually relinquished some of the more physical activities for birding. While I was able to enjoy it carousing the deep canyons of the western US in my kayak as a “young buck” I can still enjoy birding today as a mature adult as I walk the calm flat lands adjacent to a stream or creek making identifications through my binoculars.
Birdwatchers need just a few tools to enhance their experience. Most important is a good pair of binoculars and perhaps a good bird book to identify your finds. I have always loved my Olympus 12 X 50 binoculars and have included a this link in case you’d like to see what I use. I also have included a link to the American Bird Conservancy’s Field Guide titled, All the Birds of North America.