Once you start observing birds, this hobby will grow on you because it is enjoyable and great fun – you get to explore new places all the time and to experience the thrill of finding a “lifer” (a new bird for your list). In fact, birding is said to be one of the top ten fastest-growing hobbies in the world! That’s because birds are easy to find and generally easy to view, and you can locate them just about anywhere. The species are also sufficiently diverse to keep this pastime exciting and captivating, yet the overall species diversity for any particular area is never overwhelming. So be warned, once you are hooked, birding will become part and parcel of your life. But how can you add purpose to your birding endeavours?
As a keen birder, you can make a difference by helping to collect important bird data that can be analysed and used by our leading ornithologists. Even if you have little scientific background, you can make a huge contribution, simply by submitting your records. Nowadays there are apps for just about anything, and that certainly includes birding. Apart from bird identification apps, there are also bird observation data collection apps. One of the best for this purpose is BirdLasser – a free, user-friendly app that is used for recording your bird lists.
One of the most important projects to which you can submit your lists, is the SABAP2 project – the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (the second of its kind). Your data will not only be used to construct bird distribution maps for Southern Africa, but also for the continued monitoring of distribution changes of particular species and to monitor bird species that are being affected by habitat loss or gain, or in some cases, by climate change. I challenge all birders to bird purposefully, but don’t let that get in the way of birding for the joy of it! Join the SABAP2 project (http://sabap2.birdmap.africa/) and download the app: BirdLasser (https://www.birdlasser.com/). By doing this, you will join a birding community that ultimately makes a difference to the conservation of the birds in our beautiful country.