What Do You Call A Bird Watcher? The Many Names For Avian Enthusiasts

Bird watching is a beloved hobby for millions of people worldwide. But if you’re new to the activity, you may be wondering – what exactly do you call someone who watches birds as a hobby? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the many different terms used for bird watchers and avian enthusiasts.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The most common terms for a bird watcher are birder, birdwatcher, and birding enthusiast.

We’ll take an in-depth look at the history and meaning behind names like birder, twitcher, lister, and more. We’ll also overview how regional differences and changes over time affect birding terminology.

Common Terms for Bird Watchers

When it comes to the world of bird watching, enthusiasts can go by a variety of names. These terms are often used interchangeably, but each carries its own nuances and connotations. Let’s explore some of the common terms used to describe bird watchers:


The term “birder” is perhaps the most widely used and recognized term for someone who actively engages in bird watching. Birders are passionate about observing, identifying, and studying birds in their natural habitats.

They often keep records of the species they have seen and may participate in organized bird counts or surveys. Some birders even travel to different regions or countries specifically to spot rare or exotic bird species.


Similar to birders, “birdwatchers” also have a keen interest in observing birds. This term is often used to describe individuals who enjoy casually watching birds, whether it be from their own backyards or during leisurely walks in nature.

Birdwatchers may not be as involved in the scientific aspect of birding but still derive great pleasure from observing and appreciating the beauty of these winged creatures.

Birding Enthusiast

The term “birding enthusiast” encompasses a broader range of people who have a general interest in birds. This can include individuals who enjoy bird photography, bird art, or even those who simply admire birds from a distance.

Birding enthusiasts may not actively seek out birds or keep detailed records but still have a genuine appreciation for avian life.

It’s important to note that these terms are not mutually exclusive, and many bird watchers may identify with multiple labels. The main thing that unites them all is their shared love for birds and the natural world.

For more information on bird watching and the various terms used within the community, you can visit websites such as Audubon or Bird Watcher’s Digest.

Alternative Names and Slang Terms


One of the most commonly used alternative names for a bird watcher is a “twitcher.” This term originated in the United Kingdom and is often used to describe someone who travels long distances to see rare or unusual bird species.

Twitchers are known for their dedication and passion in chasing after sightings of rare birds. They often keep up-to-date with local birding news and are always ready to embark on spontaneous birding adventures.

The term “twitcher” has gained popularity not only in the UK but also among bird watchers around the world.


Another term often used to refer to bird watchers is “lister.” This name comes from the practice of keeping a detailed list of all the bird species a person has observed. Birders who are avid listers strive to see as many species as possible and take pride in their extensive birding lists.

Some listers even keep track of the specific locations and dates of their sightings. It’s not uncommon for listers to compare their lists with fellow birders and engage in friendly competition to see who can spot the most species.


The term “ticker” is a slang term used to describe bird watchers who are focused on ticking off species from their birding checklists. These individuals are driven by the desire to add new species to their personal birding records.

Tickers often meticulously plan their birding trips and target specific areas known for their diverse bird populations. They are constantly on the lookout for new sightings and take great satisfaction in checking off each species they encounter.

While these alternative names and slang terms are commonly used within the birding community, it’s important to note that not all bird watchers identify with these labels. Some may prefer to simply be called bird watchers or birders, without any specific additional title.

Ultimately, the most important thing is the shared love and appreciation for birds and the natural world.

Regional and Historical Variations

United States vs United Kingdom

When it comes to bird watchers, or avian enthusiasts as they are often called, there are regional and historical variations in the names used to describe them. In the United States, the term “bird watcher” is commonly used, while in the United Kingdom, they are referred to as “birders.”

This difference in terminology is just one example of how language and culture can shape the way we describe and engage with our natural surroundings.

The term “bird watcher” is straightforward and descriptive, indicating that the person is engaged in the activity of watching birds. On the other hand, “birder” has a slightly more passionate connotation, suggesting a deeper level of interest and knowledge about birds.

Some argue that “birder” implies a more active and dedicated pursuit of birding, involving not only observation but also identification, recording, and even conservation efforts.

While both terms are widely used in their respective countries, it’s interesting to note that the distinction between “bird watcher” and “birder” is not universally recognized. In fact, many people use the terms interchangeably, and the differences in usage can vary even within the same country.

To further complicate matters, there are also regional variations within the United States and the United Kingdom. For example, in certain parts of the US, such as the Midwest and the South, the term “birding” is more commonly used, while “bird watching” is still prevalent in other areas.

Similarly, in the UK, some regions may use “birding” more frequently, while others stick to “bird watching.”

Changes Over Time

The names used to describe bird watchers have also evolved over time. In the past, terms like “bird fancier” or “bird lover” were commonly used, reflecting a more casual and recreational approach to bird watching.

However, as the hobby gained popularity and became more organized, a need arose for a more specific and dedicated term.

With the rise of the environmental movement and increased awareness of conservation issues, the term “bird watcher” began to be replaced by “birder” in the 20th century. This shift in language reflected a broader shift in attitudes towards birds and their conservation.

It signaled a more active and engaged approach to birding, emphasizing not only the enjoyment of observing birds but also the importance of their protection and preservation.

Today, the terms “bird watcher” and “birder” continue to coexist, with individuals using the term that resonates most with their personal interests and level of dedication. Whether you call yourself a bird watcher, birder, or something else entirely, what matters most is the passion and enthusiasm you bring to the wonderful world of avian observation.

Specialist Birders and Subcultures

Within the world of bird watching, there are various subcultures and specialist groups that enthusiasts can be a part of. These subcultures allow birders to connect with others who share their specific interests and passions. Let’s explore some of these subcultures:

Big Listers

Big Listers are birders who are dedicated to creating an extensive list of bird species they have seen in their lifetime. They meticulously keep track of every bird they have encountered, often traveling far and wide to spot rare and elusive species.

These birders are motivated by the thrill of adding new species to their list and may even compete with each other to see who can spot the most birds in a given year. It’s not uncommon for Big Listers to have seen hundreds or even thousands of different bird species!

Big Day Birders

Big Day Birders take their dedication to bird watching to the extreme by attempting to see as many bird species as possible in a single day. This subculture revolves around the challenge of identifying and counting as many birds as possible within a 24-hour period.

Big Day Birders often meticulously plan their routes and timing to maximize their chances of spotting a wide variety of species. It’s a race against the clock, and these birders are willing to go to great lengths and travel long distances to achieve their goal.

Bird Banders

Bird Banders are a unique group of birders who play a crucial role in scientific research and conservation efforts. They capture wild birds, usually using mist nets, and place small bands or rings on their legs.

These bands contain unique identification numbers, allowing researchers to track the movements and behavior of individual birds over time. Bird Banders provide valuable data that helps scientists understand migration patterns, population dynamics, and other important aspects of avian biology.

Their work is essential for the conservation and management of bird species.

These specialist birding subcultures demonstrate the diverse interests and passions that exist within the larger bird watching community. Whether it’s the thrill of adding new species to a list, the challenge of a big day of birding, or the contribution to scientific research, there is a subculture for every avian enthusiast to connect with and explore.

Women Birders and Inclusive Terminology

When it comes to bird watching, enthusiasts come from all walks of life, including a diverse range of genders. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to promote inclusivity and gender equality in the birding community.

One aspect of this movement is the use of inclusive terminology to refer to bird watchers of all genders, including women.

Traditionally, bird watchers have been referred to as “birders,” a term that is often associated with male enthusiasts. However, there has been a push to use more inclusive language that recognizes and celebrates the contributions of women birders.

One alternative term that has gained popularity is “birder,” which is gender-neutral and can be used to refer to bird watchers of any gender. This term helps to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for women in the birding community.

The Importance of Inclusive Terminology

Using inclusive terminology is not just about being politically correct; it is about creating a sense of belonging and ensuring that everyone feels welcome and valued in the birding community. By using gender-neutral terms like “birder,” we can avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes and promote equality among bird watchers.

Furthermore, inclusive terminology can help to break down barriers and encourage more women to participate in bird watching. When women see themselves represented and acknowledged in the language used to describe bird watchers, they are more likely to feel empowered to pursue their passion for birding.

This can lead to a greater diversity of perspectives and experiences within the birding community, enriching the overall birding experience for everyone involved.

Supporting Women Birders

In addition to using inclusive terminology, there are other ways to support and empower women birders. One important step is to provide mentorship and guidance to aspiring women birders, helping them to develop their skills and build confidence in their abilities.

Creating opportunities for networking and collaboration among women birders can also foster a supportive community where experiences and knowledge can be shared.

Furthermore, it is crucial to address any gender disparities that may exist in the birding community. This includes advocating for equal representation of women in leadership positions, organizing women-focused birding events and workshops, and promoting the achievements and contributions of women birders through various media channels.

By taking these steps, we can ensure that women birders are not only recognized but also celebrated for their passion and expertise in the field. Ultimately, a more inclusive birding community benefits everyone, as it fosters a greater appreciation and understanding of the avian world.


Although minor differences exist, most avian enthusiasts don’t fuss too much over labels and terminology. The joy of birds and birding brings together watchers of all types. But knowing the nuanced meanings behind birder slang and regional terms helps enrich the birding experience and connect with fellow feathered fanatics.

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