Maggie Howard
Wood bridge over marsh at Delta Heritage State Park
Wood bridge over marsh at Delta Heritage State Park

Birding is a weird and wonderful hobby to get into. You start out with an old beat up bird guide and a cheap pair of binoculars, figuring you would just give it a shot. Before you know it your taking vacations just to add a new species to your life list, and learning bird calls like it’s your second language. It is oddly addictive and very satisfying.

Somewhere between the first time you are able to identify a bird without looking at your guide and somehow learning to tell all those “little brown birds” a.k.a. sparrows, apart from each other, you begin to feel a sort of pride and a sense of accomplishment. In your searches for various birds, you will begin to know your favorite trekking grounds better and better. You will start to learn where to find some of your favorite species, and even begin recognizing individual birds.

There is nothing like bird watching to create a connection with nature.

It’s provides something more for you to do when hiking your favorite trail, and even gives you a good reason to get out and exercise. That is why it is such a popular hobby. Nearly one out of five Americans identify themselves as birders.

Once you have your binoculars and guide, you don’t need anything else. If you are still hesitant about investing in any of this equipment, visit an Arkansas state park to go birding.  They will be glad to help get you started on your journey. Most state parks offer birding hikes and programs for their guests, and Delta Heritage Trail State Park is no exception. This is especially welcome if you are a social person and would like to spend the day getting to meet new people while also exploring a new hobby.  There are few better places if you are looking for some guidance from more experienced birders. Fledgling birders can also start out with the “Wings over Arkansas” program set up by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Many state parks have these booklets available, if you ask for them.

Whether you stay at home and bird watch in your own backyard, or explore the country looking for new species, birding is a wonderful, flexible hobby anyone of any age can enjoy. But be careful, once you become a bird nerd, you will be part of the flock for life.