International Crane
Foundation for Kids

Cranes and People

Owls in Mythology
and Culture

Great Backyard
Bird Count for Kids



Home Birds & People Recreation
Hunting with dog

(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC)

Birds have long been a source of entertainment for humans.  In addition to the simple pleasure of listening to their songs, birds offer humans many other forms of recreation.

In the earliest times in human history, birds were hunted strictly as a food source. There were no restrictions on who could hunt and what could be hunted. A human hunter was only limited by his or her abilities.

However, in the 11th and 12th centuries, the attitude toward hunting began to shift as organized farming emerged and native forests were cut down. It was at this time the first European game reserves were established. These reserves were viewed as playgrounds for the wealthy, and hunting became a “sport” of the upper class. (See A View To Death In The Morning by Matt Cartmill for more about the evolution of hunting from necessity to privilege.) 

When Europeans arrived in America and discovered its great wilderness lands, hunting once again became accessible for most anyone who cared to participate.
Today, hunting remains a popular sport, with such organizations as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever working diligently to protect bird habitat.

Kids with telescope

(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC)

Bird Watching ("Birding")
Bird watching – now known as "birding" – is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. According to a 2001 U.S. Fish and Wildlife study, 46 million Americans considered themselves birders at that time.

Birding is not only enjoyable – it has a huge economic impact. U.S. birders contribute some $32 billion dollars to the national economy in money spent on field guides, binoculars, bird food, bird houses, boats, transportation, guide services, and other direct birding expenses.

Falconry, the sport of taming and training falcons to hunt for humans, dates back to the 8th century in the Middle East. At that time, it was as common a sport as golf is today.
Although our world has changed significantly over the last thousand years, falconry remains much the same and still attracts people who enjoy caring for and working with these remarkable birds.

As early as 2200 BC, birds were cared for and loved as pets.  Archaeological evidence shows depictions of Chinese princes receiving falcons as gifts (although hunting with falcons wouldn’t come about until the 8th century BC).
Today, birds are among the most popular pets.  Bird species found in households include:

  • canaries
  • finches
  • parrots
  • cockatiels
  • macaws



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