There is a difference from birding and bird watching. If you talk to someone that does neither, they will almost certainly call you a bird watcher. Truthfully all of us with feeders at our house are bird watchers. We enjoy looking at the birds that come to our feeders or nest in our yards. We can do watch birds from our kitchen table, deck, or a lawn chair.
Birding is far more active. Birding is actively going out to find the birds. Going birding requires patience, skill and time. The more of these three things you have the better the birder you will become. To be a good birder you need to study. You need to know the field marks of birds that look similar so you can tell them apart. If you think bird watching and birding are the same, I challenge you to walk out to Napatree under a hot sun when the next rare bird is found there. All the while rushing back so you don't get a parking ticket. You will understand the difference.
But here is the thing about birding, birders spend far more time looking for rather than looking at birds. Think about that for a second because it is true. All of us have gone to Trustom right? Think about how many minutes you take to look at birds through your binoculars during a two hour walk. How long are the eye cups actually over your eyes? Chances are that amount of time is less than a few minutes. Of course, there are many reasons for this. There are plenty of roots and rocks to watch out for. There are plenty of places where there aren't birds to look at. These are valid reasons.
The other main reason we don't spend a lot of time looking at the birds is because subconsciously our main goal is to ID them. Think about it. How many times have you raised your binoculars only to say out loud "Robin" or "just a Chickadee". Chances are if it is a common bird, you lower the binoculars and move on. Yes, I am just as guilty as anyone else. There is only so many times I can admire a robin when my main goal is a Pileated Woodpecker.
However, what I am really trying to do is watch and look at the birds in migration, even the common ones. For example, I seem to be seeing Rose Breasted Grosbeaks everywhere. I've probably seen ten over the last four after work walks. They are still beautiful even though I am seeing them every day. So instead of raising my binos and saying out loud "another Rose Breasted Grosbeak" and then moving on, I have been watching them. I have been admiring their beauty. I watched a male chase off another male at the Cumberland Monastery last night. It was fun
While I was at Great Swamp on Friday I came across a very cooperative Black and White Warbler. It was feeding only feet from me and didn't care about my presence at all. I've seen dozens of them so far this year. But this one wanted to put on a show. So I stayed there and I watched it. It would sing while it was feeding doing that high pitched buzz. The whole show lasted a good three minutes. I am happy it decided to hang out with me for that time.
Since warbler migration only lasts a month or so, I am doing my best to keep my binoculars up when I see a pretty bird. Just because orioles are everywhere, it does not take away from their beauty. I love seeing them, I love getting photos of them. So this spring once I ID them I'm going to keep my binoculars on them for a few more seconds and really enjoy the colors. I will be better off for it.