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Get up, get out: Bird watching around Tampa Bay

Bird watching is a great way to get out in the community and experience nature.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's something the whole family can enjoy. It doesn't matter where you live, all you have to do is go outside and enjoy nature happing around you by watching birds. Becoming a bird watcher is as easy as looking around and listening. 

"It's an opportunity for people to see the wildlife up close, to watch them behave. You know just right there in your yard and feel that sense of connection to nature that's so important for our blood pressure and our health and our sense of wellness."  Ann Paul, president of the Tampa Audubon Society, said. "Over 500 species have been identified as part of Florida's bird life."

I met up with Paul in Lettuce Lake Park recently to find out more about bird watching. She says to start just by observing the different birds around your home. The Audubon Society even has an app you can download to help. 

"The best thing to do when you're a beginning bird watcher is to learn about the birds you know. Then the next time you see a bird you don't know you can say well it looked a little bit like it was smaller than a pigeon but bigger than a cardinal," Paul said. 

She says the first time she was able to identify a bird on her own was a special day. 

"I almost threw my book in the air, my hat in the air. Not my binoculars. Did a little jig of joy because I could do it. I could do this bird watching thing. I could find birds and identify them and it was one of the fun things. I'll never forget that day."

And while the Audubon Society does group watching and meetings, bird watching doesn't have to be that formal. It can simply be a walk in the park."

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