It is certainly not surprising why bird watching, in recent days, rapidly develops into a heated pass-time among elderly people. Its magical soothing and healing effects are quite conducive to leading a self-sufficient life. For people who want to enjoy bird watching in their sunset years, there are two basic ways to get involved.
1. Outdoor Bird Watching
Bird watching is a household activity that is considered to be a marvelous approach for humans to take an active part in the ecosystem. The Christmas Bird Count is a world-renowned bird watching event in the Western Hemisphere in a great effort to celebrate the creation of the natural wonder. Originally known as the Christmas Side Hunt, a brutal competition of massive bird slaughter, the Christmas Bird Count has evolved into an environmental-friendly annual event that attracts people nationwide to count birds in the migration season. It is the world’s longest-running bird census with great contributions to bird population research.
Bird watching comes in various forms but one of the most traditional ways to do bird watching would be going straight to wildlife habitats and quietly approaching them without artificial intervention. A great many bird lovers would spend enormous time and energy driving long-distance, going deep into mountains, waiting for long, only to catch a glimpse of these beautiful little tiny creatures. It is an accessible hobby that seniors of all abilities could pick up right away and become a more adept birdwatcher as experience grows. Old fellas could pair with some friends, take a stroll in a forest trail and then totally submerge themselves in the audio-visual pleasure gifted by their little friends. Differentiate one species from another according to their beaks, feathers, etc., and keep a track of their patterns of behaviors and habitats.
The following is a general bird-watching guide for seniors to get started.
Invest in binoculars: Choose a pair of wide-field binoculars with comfortable lenses to secure a better experience of bird watching, especially for those who suffer vision impairments. Lightweight binoculars would make a better option for seniors to carry around in the wilderness. Go for those with excellent clarity to catch trivial details of the fast-moving creatures undetected by naked eyes. Pick a magnification of 7 to 8 times and lens number from 30 to 40 millimeters for the most versatility.
Get a bird guide: It is always advisable to get a bird guide for beginners. A bird guide can help elderly people keep updated with some basic knowledge of birds and teach them how to approach these delicate creatures in a more effective and friendlier way. A portable bird guide can also be downloaded on smartphones to carry around.
Gear up head-to-toe: Avoid any bright-colored clothing at all costs, and always go for darker shades as camouflage to blend in or choose colors that match the specific habitats where you are birding. Choose comfortable clothing made out of lightweight and waterproof fabric to secure long-time outdoor wandering. Dress in layers with a long-sleeve jacket, long sweatpants and comfortable sneakers to adapt to the sudden temperature changes and bumpy mountain roads. Since you are heading into deep woods, you’d better carry all necessities needed in the hiking like water and food supplies, medications, sunglasses and environmentally-friendly bug spray, etc.
Go early in the morning: Birdsong is a perfect wake-up call for all. The vast majority of birds are most active and vocal at sunrise, so chances of viewing different species of birds are higher during this period. If you are interested in some particular creatures that hunt at night like nighthawks, you’d better pay your visits accordingly.
2. Bird Watching in the Backyard
For seniors who suffer long-term confinement to their homes, there is a perfect way to get them involved by creating a birding environment in the backyard or simply on the balcony. Different from the traditional way of outdoor bird watching, bird watching in the backyard saves them from long travel and hiking. It aims to provide elderly people with the most direct audio-visual feast in a more convenient manner. It is a convenient and accessible substitute for seniors with different levels of mobility issues. Easier access to this enjoyable activity by simply stepping into the backyard or looking out of the windows to interact with their little guests.
The following a general guide for watching birds in the backyards.
Build a birdhouse: One of the greatest ideas to start bird watching in the backyard is to build a birdhouse to attract nesting birds. A wide range of ready-made birdhouses are available now to meet different needs, but it is totally advocated for people to start from scratch to build their own birdhouses, for constructing a birdhouse is not only a cost-effective option, but a meaningful pass-time. Waste materials like drawers and teapots can also be repurposed to create a unique shelter for nesting.
But do keep in mind that different species of birds have different requirements for shelters and nesting. Trivial details like the dimension of the entrance holes and the overall size of the birdhouse could totally make a difference to which kind of birds are attracted. To attract specific species of birds, the measurements of the birdhouse should be adjusted accordingly to meet their living requirements. The location and exterior decoration of the birdhouse matter as well. Placing bright-colored birdhouses with different measurements at different heights will magically increase the diversity of backyard birds.
Once an appropriate birdhouse of deliberate design is set up, the only last thing you need to do is waiting for its potential residents to settle in. The waiting process may be excruciating, but it’ll be all worth it. Moreover, if possible, you can also install a bird box camera into the birdhouse to get a better view. The TV Bird Box Camera with HDMI Converter from Green backyard is a robust tool for bird watching with bird-friendly night vision (invisible infrared LEDs) to deliver 24/7 recording. Using together with the included HDMI converter, you can watch true 1080p live feeds on your TV, HDMI or VGA monitors after a simple plug-and-play installation.
Install a bird feeder: Bird feeders could be installed in the backyard to attract those gorgeous little creatures as well. For seniors who are long-term bed-ridden, caregivers can help create a comfortable indoor environment for bird watching by rearranging the furniture to make sure the birdwatchers have a great view and hanging the bird feeder by the windows in the birdwatchers’ direct view so that birds could be easily seen when they are chilling in the chair or lying on the bed.
Likewise, proper placement also matters for the attractiveness of bird feeders. Placing suitable bird feeders at different heights will not only help avoid congestion but also broaden the variety of backyard birds. And it is strongly required that the feeders should be hung away from potential predators (cats for example) for safety concerns. But most importantly, they should be installed in places where birdwatchers have access to a clear and unobstructed view through the windows or on the balconies. Lately, Green backyard has launched a new mini WiFi bird feeder camera that can be directly installed in the feeder or attached to a freestanding pole. It’s completely waterproof without any concern of water ingress which gives you peace of mind in outdoor deployments. It features a wide-angle lens with an adjustable focus to give you a wider field of view. The built-in microphone delivers true-to-life bird sounds when those hungry birds are busy stuffing their mouths with bird feeds.
Different species of birds have different preferences for specific kinds of food. A diverse mix of seeds will make a startling difference in attracting as many species of birds as possible. Among all, black oil sunflower seeds are most appealing to a great number of birds, which is a perfect option for beginners. But be cautious about your food choice. Certain kinds of bird seeds have strong appeals to squirrels, who will empty the trays before birds do. So squirrel-proof feeders are highly recommended to discourage squirrels from potential thefts.
Place a birdbath: Placing a birdbath in the backyard is truly a mutually beneficial decision for a better bird watching experience. On the one hand, a birdbath can also be placed in hot weather to provide a summer resort with cool water for those little creatures to clean their feathers and cool off. Undoubtedly, it’s such a spectacular attraction for birds to stop by. On the other hand, with the installment of birdbaths, seniors could have easier access to a wider variety of birds without traveling far.
A shallow-bowl birdbath is a nice choice to ensure that birds of different sizes and species could comfortably perch on the edge while drinking and resting, and that birdwatchers have a better view from different angles. For better stability, it is always right to go for the concrete ones to weather extreme conditions. But there is something you should pay close attention to when installing a birdbath. It’s strongly discouraged to use a heated bath or chemicals to dissolve the ice in winter because warm bathing and defrosting chemicals will only put your little friends at a higher risk of hypothermia. Similarly, you can install a multi-purpose outdoor WiFi IP camera next to the birdbath to get a closer look at your feathered visitors without causing any disturbance.
Bird watching is a game-changing opportunity to develop an intimate relationship between humans and Mother Nature with mutual benefits to both. For those who want to develop an elderly-friendly hobby in their golden years, get started now.