Club member Caroline Gilmore, who lives in Durham, said she developed her hobby of watching birds because they are beautiful and she was interested in how they live. She also likes to take photographs of birds.
“I get to go birding almost every weekend because of the club,” Gilmore said.
Every Saturday from September through April, the club organizes a field trip to watch birds in some nearby locations around the Triangle, Smith said.
Bird watchers usually get together at the Glen Lennox Shopping Center parking lot at 7:30 a.m., bringing their own binoculars or telescopes and tripods, and have a three-to-four-hour morning field trip to watch birds, Smith said.
One of the most popular destinations is Mason Farm Biological Reserve near the golf course, the Vice President of Chapel Hill Bird Club Kent Fiala said.
The destinations vary from week to week and usually the field trip supervisor Robert Rybczynski, who is experienced in identifying birds, decides bird watching destinations weekly, Fiala said.
“(The destination) varies with the season,” Rybczynski said. “Different habitats have different kinds of birds.”
Besides destination choosing, the field trip supervisor has the responsibility to guide and lead the trips, Fiala said.
“One thing is to help people who are beginners, who may not know how to identify many species,” Rybczynski said.
Gilmore said the field trip group was helpful and supportive for novice birders.
“They really helped me become a better birder,” she said. “They’ve really taught me a lot.”
Mutual help is the learning mechanism within the club.
Although there was no formal training for new members, the field trip supervisor teaches novice birders during the trip and more experienced members help less experienced bird watchers during the monthly meetings, Fiala said.
The club’s monthly meetings serve as a platform to share experience and educate members.
The major responsibilities of the president are to run the meetings and handle interviews for local newspapers, Smith said.
Fiala said at monthly meetings, organizers invite guest speakers, college students, researchers from nearby universities, experienced birders or anyone who had had a trip to other countries to give a presentation and share experiences with attendees.
Besides the presentation, which is the major part of the meeting, new members also have a chance to share interesting experiences.
“We always have an opportunity for new folks to introduce themselves,” Smith said.
Fiala and Smith had the same feelings that the interest for bird watching increased in recent years. They think this increase is caused by people’s awareness of protecting environment and birds.
Rybczynski said because there are various ways of bird watching, it's easy for people to bird watch.
Some people liked to watch birds on their yards while others liked to travel to different places to see birds.
The club is supported by dues paid by members.
“Birders are a very diverse group,” Rybczynski said. “So we have young people, old people, people who are well traveled, people who are on business, people who are on academics, people who do completely other things."
"So (it's) a very diverse group that is brought together by an interest in nature basically, in birds especially.”