Twitchers are birding enthusiasts who love to follow rare birds, and would travel far and wide to savour a rare sighting.
Literally speaking, twitcher is just another name for ‘birdwatcher’, however, not every birder likes to be addressed as a twitcher. The dictionary describes ‘twitch’ as involuntary muscle spasms or convulsions. The term ‘twitching’ came to be associated with birdwatching in the 1950s, when it was used to describe the nervous excitement experienced by Howard Medhurst, a British birdwatcher, and friends while they would wait in the wild for a rare bird to show up.
From a hobby in the late 19th century, birdwatching has evolved into a competitive sport, and a major contributor to world tourism. All twitchers maintain a Life List – a list of all the birds they have identified in their lifetime.
Twitching is an obsession for some, and a serious twitcher would drop everything he or she is doing to do whatever it takes – even travel long distances – to reach the location of a rare bird congregation.
Legendary Ornithologist and author of “The Book of Indian Birds” Dr. Salim Ali (1896-1987), who devoted his life to the study of birds, is famously known as the ‘Birdman of India’.