I’ve been reorganizing and vamping up our physical activity directory in the past few months, and asking anyone who will listen what suggestions they have that can be added, and what resources they know of that I just can’t find.

Last month Ella Belling, Executive Director of Mon River Trails Conservancy, suggested I add birding resources into the directory, and offered some resources to get started. To be honest, I first wondered just how active bird watching was!

I must admit, I thought bird watching was sitting on your front porch with binoculars in your hand and bird feeders in your yard. But after a little research I discovered what a great mode of physical activity bird watching has the potential to be!

Bird watching can be as low impact as going out to fill your bird feeders every morning, or as high intensity as carrying photography equipment on long hikes to catch a glimpse of birds only seen in West Virginia.

It’s a great way to keep people moving as they age, much like gardening, because it is so low impact and creates a sense of pride and motivation.

It’s also a great way to explore new places, meet new friends, and start marking walking and hiking routes off your list of places explored and birds seen.

For those who get bored just walking, adding a pair of binoculars and a bird guide can give you something to focus on and a reason to keep going. And in the winter time, maintaining your bird feeder station by shoveling snow away can be pretty great activity.

Here’s what Ella has to say about her experience: “Birding is a great scavenger hunt in the outdoors.”

“It allows me to hike in the woods (or on a bike or in a kayak) with a pair of binoculars, and focus on listening for bird song and watching for movement. Birding can be a wonderful social activity with birding groups, mine being the Mountaineer Chapter of Audubon, but also fun to connect to nature on my own. I enjoy learning and seeing what birds reside and migrate through the Appalachian forests and fields.”

Check out Birding for Your Health at Birds & Blooms to learn more about how birding can improve your quality of life.

I’ve compiled all of the resources I could find for birding in West Virginia and put them into the ‘Hiking/Walking’ category in the West Virginia Physical Activity Network Directory – you’ll see in the far right column I have labeled ‘Birding/bird watching area’ to highlight the resources most pertinent to bird watching. Most of the best resources came from the WV DNR.

Check it out, try it out, snap some pictures and share your experience with us by tagging us or by using the hashtags #WVPAN or #WVWhatMovesYou.

Happy birding!

This story was originally featured on the West Virginia Community Development Hub’s Blog

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