Birdwatching is an endeavor that tends to be self-motivated. Even if we know someone who wants to show us birds, wants us to see them as he or she does, we still discover birds on our own. That birding friend might show us an egret through a scope, an eagle flying overhead, or talk about the finches at a feeder but learning more about them, becoming more interested in birds is a decision that everyone makes for themselves.
When we look at any of the birds in our gardens, once we start wondering about their names, noting the difference between woodpeckers and nuthatches and doves, we want to learn more and before you know it, you find yourself birdwatching. Since all that birding requires are binoculars, birds, and the desire to watch them, it’s easy to start birding on your own. You don’t need to watch birds with other people, you don’t need to sign up for a group or take some course for a certification. No matter where you live, birds are out there waiting to be discovered. If you are birding in Costa Rica, that also translates to a heck of a lot of birds, an incredible 900 plus species to be exact.
However, there is still much to be said about birding in a group, there are some good reasons to go birding with others. As with any excellent site for birding, at Villa San Ignacio, the birding is productive both on your own and in a group setting. These are some of the pros and cons:
Birding on Your Own Depends on When You Feel like Birding
Birding alone? No problem! You start and end when you want, you watch whatever birds you want, and it’s all about peace and quiet. Naturally, bird on your own and you don’t have to adjust your birding to anyone else. Stay out as little or as long as you want, if it feels like margarita time, there’s a professional bartender waiting for you at Pandora. There’s no one to talk to on the trail but once in a while, we could all use some room for meditation. Besides, you can still makes friends back at the bar.
Forced to Pay More Attention
When we watch birds on our own, since we can only rely on ourselves, it’s up to you to get a better look at that bird, it’s up to you to take mental notes to identify that unfamiliar flycatcher. If we want to identify more, we are forced to pay more attention, forced to focus more on searching, finding, and figuring out what that bird was. It’s like a personal treasure hunt and some of us like the challenge but if you feel better about birding with someone who knows what those birds are, you can always hire an experienced local guide.
Group Birding is More Dynamic
Birding in a group might depend on a set schedule but in general, when looking for birds, the more eyes the better. Maybe not as much inside the green confines of a tropical forest but in the small volleyball clearing at Villa San Ignacio, group birding works out quite well. Someone with an eye on bigger trees in the back might spy a toucan, someone else watching the trees by the wall might notice a perched Plain-capped Starthroat. Although a guide will do it best, in a group, there are more people to help other birders see more birds, more folks to share the experience (which is still best shared over happy our drinks at Pandora).
There’s Nothing like Sharing Birds in Beautiful Surroundings
Perhaps the best advantage of birding in a group is having the chance to share a unique, fulfilling experience in beautiful surroundings. The group doesn’t have to be a big one either, some of the best birding trips happen with three to four friends.
At Villa San Ignacio, the good thing about birding is that no matter how you feel like doing it, there’s always a lot to see, sometimes right near the pool.
Blog by Patrick O’Donnell.
Patrick O’Donnell started birding at the age of 7 in Niagara Falls, NY. A biologist by trade, he has worked on bird-related projects in a number of places and has guided birders in Ecuador, Peru, and Costa Rica. Patrick has lived in Costa Rica since 2007 and when not birding, writes about birds, travel and tourism, and other topics.