A sculptor friend of mine once built a beautiful bird watching tower for a client in Europe. We were looking at photos of the hut when conversation turned to the social networking site ‘twitter’ and whether the name might have had some reference to the practice of bird watching. It probably doesn’t. However, in the course of this conversation I learnt something wonderfully incidental.
I have always used the verb ‘twitching’ to refer indiscriminately to the ‘doing’ of bird watching, and ‘twitchers’ as the collective noun for those who partake in such doing. However, it seems I was being rather ignorant.
‘Twitching’, when correctly applied refers only to the intrepid and purposeful form of bird watching. It need involve travel, the pursuit of a particular bird or birds (preferably rare), and record keeping of some kind.
Less adventurous forms of bird watching attract the comparatively dowdy term ‘birding’, or simply ‘bird-watching’. I’m sure they could have been a little more imaginative.
I’m not familiar with any ethnographies on bird watching, birding, twitching and the like.