I don't know anything about birds

Robin, one of Britain's favourite garden birds

I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, but birds were a relatively new discovery for me. And when I first began paying close attention to them, I must admit that I found it all quite overwhelming.

Bins? Twitchers? Plumage? Which food to get when? How do they fly? Do birds sleep?

I had no clue! But I loved seeing the birds, watching their delicate movements and slowly beginning to understand their distinctive characters. Learning to love and appreciate their individual quirks left me wanting more.

So, I started to ask a lot more questions…

Do birds sleep?

Mute swan resting

Yes they do! I found out that just like humans, birds are diurnal which means they are active during the day and sleep at night.

Slightly dissimilar from us humans, bird’s don’t really have to go to bed. But, they do tend to pick places away from predators where they feel safe, often choosing trees, dense shrubs or nesting boxes to rest in.

How do birds fly?

Gulls in flight

In short, bird’s bodies have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to perfect the art of flying. Light bones, strong legs and specially shaped wings.

Someone explained a bird’s wing shape to me by means of a comparison. Have you ever tried to move your open palm through water really fast? It’s pretty tough and it feels like the water is pushing back against you. But, when you turn your hand sideways, it moves relatively fast, doesn’t it?

In a similar sort of vein, when a bird is flying they have flat wings. That means the air flows easily around it in the direction the bird is flying. And, because a bird’s wing is slightly curved it means that there is more air on the bottom side, because the air is moving more slowly. This means it gets pushed up from the bottom, lifting the bird and enabling flight!

What’s the difference between a birder and a twitcher?

Birdwatcher using a pair of binoculars

These words get thrown around a lot...and there are some differences between a ‘birder’ and a ‘twitcher’.

Birders enjoy the pastime of watching birds. They spend time looking at the different birds that may come their way and seeing and feeling the joy that birds can bring to their lives. Twitchers are those who actively seek out specific types of birds. For example, they may want to find and watch a particular rare species of bird that they have never seen before, and add it to their ever-growing list of birds they have spotted from across the world!

I would consider myself a birder. I think all birds are wonderful and I still get as much joy from seeing the morning robin as I do from seeing a completely new species. Birds help me to think, to ask questions, and to relax. Both birds and twitchers have a deep appreciation for our feathered friends and for nature, and that’s what really matters!

These are just a few of the answers I’ve come across in recent months, but I’m always looking to learn and asking questions. It’s funny how nature has that impact on you. It makes you become curious and childlike again. Hopefully I won’t be losing that any time soon!

What questions have you been asking?

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