The word “birding” is not in my dictionary. There’s “birder.” There’s “bird house,” “birdie” and “bird lime.” But not “birding.”
Mine is an old dictionary. When I was a boy, which is even longer ago than the publication date of my dictionary, I never said I was going “birding,” either, though I was interested in birds at an early age. I said I was going bird watching.
As an indication of my early interest in birds, I made a bird feeder and hung it on a wire, which I strung from the side of our house to a tree in the yard, with Dad’s help, when I was in third or fourth grade.
I filled my bird feeder every morning before going to school. I often looked out a window to see the birds coming to my feeder. When I was outside, I stopped frequently, almost no matter what I was doing, to look at a bird. I went outside just to look for birds. But I never said I was going “birding,” nor did anyone else say I was “birding.” When I was asked, I said I was bird watching.
Birding must be in newer editions of dictionaries. Birding is now one of the most popular outdoor activities. A survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service several years ago found that there are more bird watchers than hunters and fishermen combined.
Again going back to when I was a boy, as a birder I was a loner. One grade school teacher I had was mildly interested in birds, and told me about a bird she had seen once in awhile. Occasionally a classmate went with me when I went walking along the river, looking for birds. But I carried a pair of field glasses and my companion usually carried a fishing pole and a can of worms.