- Feb 21 4:20 pm
Here is my take:
I believe the difference is simply based on the purpose. The term bird-watcher tends to be more passive, as in people watching birds, and taking it all in for the whole experience and enjoyment. There is not a lot of chase or active seeking out species at a location and one spot is generally good as the next. Bird-watchers may or may not choose to chase rarity, and many rather prefer serendipitous or chance encounters. They may or may not count birds, but not that interested in keeping score. They will visit spots that are more productive (a busy hotspot is enjoyable to all), but may not drive out of their way to spots farther afield for a chance to see a single species.
Conversely, birder and birding refers to a person who is more actively seeking birds, either chasing after a rarity, doing a full eBird count (and getting all the numbers accurate), and generally interested in knowing all the birds at a given location. They may or may not stop to take it all in but generally are more interested in covering an area to make sure they did not miss anything.
Now there is no black and white difference, each of us fall into both camps to some degree and there are more dimensions to this but the crux is active birding vs passive bird watching. Birders typically spend a lot more time learning songs and calls of different species and subtleties of field marks, range, migration patterns, and anything else that may pay off in the field.