Birdwatching, also known as birding, is a beloved pastime for many. Done with just your eyes or through technology such as binoculars and telescopes, birdwatchers will travel the world just to lay their eyes on a rare species. Birdwatching involves your ears as much as your eyes – many birds are identified by the sounds that they make. The typical birdwatcher is a hobbyist, not a scientist (ornithologist), and many integrate the hobby into their travels. So where are some of the world's top bird watching locations? With over 10,000 species in the world, enthusiast surely have some sort of bucket list as to where they would like to visit. These people will travel far and wide just to catch a glimpse of their feathery friends. Here are some of the top spots on the world map where birdwatchers must drop a pin.
One of Africa’s largest game reserves, Kruger National Park covers 19,633 square kilometers in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the northeastern region of South Africa. Kruger made the list because it is the home of what birdwatchers know as South Africa’s “big six” birds – the southern ground hornbill, Pel’s fishing owl, lappetfaced vulture, saddle-billed stork, martial eagle and the kori bustard. Not the most pretty, but these birds are large and in charge, and very easy to spot. The best area to spot these birds would be around the Luvuvhu River.
This is a major destination for bird watchers because the Pantanal is home to more bird species than all of North America. Thousands of birds can be seen flying in flocks , and birdwatchers may even see six different species nesting on a single branch. The Pantanal is also home to the flightless rhea, the biggest Brazilian bird.
One of the most sought after birds is the bald eagle, the United State’s symbolic creature. They have always been an object of fascination, especially for bird watchers. Soaring thousands of feet over mountaintops, bald eagles represent freedom and patriotism in addition to being highly valued. They can be found in every state except Hawaii. Many birdwatchers travel to Alaska because this is where they are the most prevalent. The best place to see them in large numbers is on the Chilkat River between October to December. They gather for what is known as the annual salmon run.
Like Brazil, Ecuador’s bird life is widely diverse – home to over 1500 species. Among the best known and most colorful are toucans. With their rainbow colored beaks, toucans live at forest treetop level and are often best seen from boats. Ecuador is also the home to blue macaws and parrots which can be considered any kind of entertainment to bird watching enthusiasts.
For globe-trotting birdwatchers, what better way to mark these “bucket list” locations than a beautiful display map to pin all of their great species sightings. Not only is this a great way to document travels, but it’s also a reminder as to what these locations mean and the kinds of birds that inhabit the lands. To the experienced birdwatcher, finding a rare species is like finding buried treasure.
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