Famous Bird Watchers (celebrity ornithologists)
Bird watching is a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon or if you’re fortunate enough a whole weekend. So it’s no wonder that there are a reported 45 million bird watchers worldwide. Many celebrities and famous people are among that 45 million and we have the names of a few famous bird watchers coming up next.
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What Kind Of Celebrities Enjoy Bird Watching?
As bird watching is such a relaxing and rewarding way to spend your free time, it’s no surprise that so many people who spend most of their lives in the public eye like nothing more than a couple of hours watching birds in their natural environment. Politicians, authors, actors, musicians and comedians, in fact people from all walks of celebrity life styles enjoy bird watching.
So who are these celebrity bird watchers? Listed below are bird watchers famous for their work in the celebrity limelight.
This famous British comedian and writer is a well known, self confessed birdie. He even wrote a book entitled “Bearded Tit; A Love Story With Feathers”. In which he details how bird watching has influenced his life. He is quoted as saying that “Bird watching can appear dull unless you do it”. He has also said that “despite it not being the coolest hobby, it’s more popular than you’d think”.
British actress Alison Steadman who is probably most famous for her roles in “Gavin and Stacey” and “Abigail’s party” began her bird watching from her home in North London and is now traveling further afield to watch the birds. She went to Dungeness in Kent with the BBCs resident birder Mike Dilger, where they spotted some of the first purple herons to nest in the United Kingdom. Alison has been quoted as saying that if she was reincarnated she’d like to be a nuthatch.
Sir Paul McCartney
This famous British musician and songwriter is a self confessed keen ornithologist and he carries a pocket sized copy of the Observers book of birds around with him. He is superstitious when it comes to magpies and he says he eithers spits or salutes when he sees one.
His interest in birds has spilled over into his songwriting and performing life. He has written at least 3 songs inspired by birds, and they are; “Blackbird”, “Bluebird” and “Jenny Wren”.
The outspoken co-frontman of the BBCs “Top Gear” is a British TV presenter and journalist. He is also a member of the RSPB and is often to be found bird watching. His wife has said he is often to be found out walking around their holiday home with a pair of binoculars spotting birds.
Sadly Jeremy has been reported to the police for disturbing a barn owl’s nest. Along with Chris Packham, another bird and wildlife enthusiast, the pair were filmed for an episode of Countryfile approaching a barn owl’s nest and 2 owls were filmed flying away. But Packham said he was certain that neither the nest nor the owls were disturbed and they had a wildlife expert consultant with them during the shoot who advised that no damage had been done.
This British actor, comedian, TV presenter, artist, writer and musician has been bird watching since a young age. He is well known for his stand on conservation and wildlife issues.
Another British comedian, actor, singer and musician, Bill Bailey is well known for his love of bird watching. He has even written a humorous book entitled “Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide To British Birds”. Which includes his own personal notes, drawings and cartoons.
This well known British actor famous for appearing in Sharpe and the game of thrones is also a keen bird watcher. In fact in his younger days he owned a kestrel.
Another British actor famous for his recital work with orchestras and his appearance on the last night of the proms, Sam West is also an avid bird watcher.
The famous singer and songwriter, Van Morrison is known to enjoy bird watching when he has the time.
The writer and broadcaster from London is an avid bird watcher and started watching birds at a young age. His parents bought him his first pair of binoculars while he was still at school. He is the author of The Urban Birder, Tales From Concrete Jungles, #Urban Birding and How To Be An Urban Birder.
John James Audubon
John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He wrote a now famous book entitled The Birds of America which contained 435 hand-coloured, life-size prints, including at least 5 birds that are now extinct. The book was first published in 1838 and is often called the “Double Elephant Folio”, because of its size. It was printed on handmade paper 39.5 inches tall by 28.5 inches wide.
David Allen Sibley
An American ornithologist, author and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Sibley has provided details of 810 birds found in the USA and Canada. The images in the book also include images of each bird actually in flight, making identification far easier.
K.K. Neelakantan, who wrote under the name of Induchoodan, was one of the leading Indian Ornithologists and popularised bird watching in his native India through the publication of his books on birds.
The writer and comedian is a keen bird watcher and is proud of the kingfisher near his home. He said he loves the fact that “apparently British robins are the only robins that will sit on the spade of a gardener. It’s because our gardeners would have fed and petted them in the past”. He has also written a book entitled “Birdwatchingwatching”.
Wes Craven was an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and editor. Most well known for films such as; “A nightmare on Elm street” and “Scream” Wes was also an avid bird watcher. His bird watching interests started when he was a youngster living in Cleveland Ohio. Wes and his mother used to often sit outside looking for nighthawks and purple martins. He even wrote a column every month in “Martha’s Vineyard Magazine” the title of which was, Wes Craven’s The Birds.
The well known author of the James Bond books, was an avid bird watcher, in fact the name of his principal character was also the name of the author of the book “Birds of the West Indies”. He would often take excursions into the blue mountains on the lookout for rare and unusual birds.
Magaret Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor. She is also an on the board adviser to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. Plus she and her husband are also honorary president of the rare bird club, part of birdlife international.
She wrote an article for the Guardian about immediate action that needs to be taken to save the birds. She has also written children’s books to educate children on the plight of birds and wildlife in general.
The famous photographer David Bailey wanted to become an ornithologist, like his idols James Fisher and David Attenborough. He said he used to run away from school sports days to go bird watching. He says his first ever photograph was of a “blurred house sparrow”. He is still a keen bird watcher and subscribes to various bird watching publications which he reads continuously.
British born Guy Garvey is a singer, songwriter, BBC 6 music presenter,musician and lead singer with the band Elbow. During the lockdown in 2020 he exchanged a series of pen drawings of birds with the writer Adam O’Riordan. Guy spent his Mercury prize money on “posh binoculars” to further his bird watching experience.
The bassist, guitarist and vocalist of the band Doves. He is also a very knowledgeable bird watcher.
Fyfe Antony Dangerfield Hutchins is a British musician and songwriter and frontman of the band the Guillemots. He is also an avid bird watcher.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The 32nd president of the USA has been bird watching since childhood, and would often stroll through the woods along the Hudson river in search of birds. As a teenager he became a member of the American Ornithologists’ Union and even studied taxidermy to preserve some of the birds he spotted. Some of his taxidermy subjects can be seen in the American Museum of Natural History.
The 39th president of the USA has a list of around 1,100 species that he and his wife have recorded during family trips. This list was started in 1988 when they visited a game reserve in Tanzania where a trained ornithologist taught them of the many birds they saw. He also showed them how to record all of the species they saw.
He has volunteered to count birds during a Breeding Bird Survey and he’s also been involved in various wildlife conservation projects including Operation Migration. Operation migration is an organization that leads whooping cranes to safe areas for Winter shelter using ultralight airplanes.
During his time in the Navy, Prince Philip became interested in the South Pacific and Atlantic bird populations. He took many photographs and published some in a book called Birds from Britannia. He was also the president of The world wildlife fund.
Albert Einstein was well known for early morning excursions into the woods bird watching when he had the time. Later in life he became the owner of a pet parrot called “Bibo” . The bird was ill and he helped to nurse the poor parrot back to health.
The Marxist leader of Cuba spent time bird watching when governmental duties would allow.
Joanna Lumley is a famous actress, presenter, model, author, and TV producer probably best remembered for her portrayal of Patsy Stone in the award winning comedy “Absolutely Fabulous” and is also a keen bird watcher.
An American actress, author, producer and model Cameron Diaz is reported to be a bird watcher, although her character in the film “Charlies Angels” misidentified the species of bird that led her to the discovery of the bad guys hideout. Whether she did really know the bird’s identity and just played along for the movie we will probably never know.
Founding member of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger is reported to be a regular bird watcher.
Frontman with the band Pulp Jarvis Cocker is also reported to be a keen bird watcher.
British actor and comedian Vic spends his spare time watching birds.
Leonardo da Vinci
The 15th century genius who is known to be a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect spent much of his early life watching birds. In his later years he recalled his times watching birds and flying his kite. He even built a glider based on the study of birds in flight.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle, who lived 2,400 years ago, wrote a 10 volume book called the “History of Animals.” In this work, he refers to about 140 species of birds. He understood the migration of birds and how they fattened themselves up before embarking on their long migratory journeys.
Aristophanes was an ancient Greek playwright and commentator on social and political events of his time. He wrote a play entitled “The Birds” that was first performed in 414 BC. In the play various characters take on the role of many different birds found throughout the region. It is clear from this work that Aristophanes studied the birds very closely indeed to come up with such a knowledgeable work.
A British politician and a member of the house of lords, Ken Clarke is reported to be a keen bird watcher.
Viscount Edward Grey of Fallodon
Sir Edward Grey was a British liberal and served as foreign secretary from 1905 to 1916. He also achieved many political goals and did much for the British people. In 1927 he wrote a book entitled “The Charm of birds” which has been described as “A classic work of ornithology, one of the finest ever written on birdsong”.
British comedian and half of the double act “Morecambe and Wise” Eric was a keen bird watcher and he spent much of his childhood watching birds around his hometown of Morecambe. After his death in 1984 a pool and hide were constructed on salt marshes on the RSPB  Morecambe Bay nature reserve.
Eleanor of Arborea
The queen of Sardinia, Eleanor of Arborea, was a judge way back in the 1300s. In 1392 she granted the protection of bird nests against illegal hunters. This was the very first recorded ruling for the protection of birds. The bird in question was a type of falcon, and is now known as “Eleanora’s falcon”. She was a very progressive ruler who also passed laws protecting womens’ rights.
Florence Merriam Bailey
While Florence was not a celebrity in the true sense of the word, she became famous for her works on birds. She wrote more than 100 articles and 10 books some of which were the earliest ever recorded field guides which were so full of birding knowledge that these guides made it possible to identify bird species without having to have shot them first.
One of her books, the “Handbook of Birds of the Western United States” was said to have been “the most complete textbook of regional ornithology ever published”
Over To You
Above is a list of the most famous bird watchers we have found, so now it’s over to you. Do you know of any famous people who are known to be bird watchers that we’ve missed? Please let us know in the comments below.
And if you’re a celebrity looking to get into the art of ornithology, grab yourself a pair of decent bird watching binoculars, get out there and let us know what you find!
Frequently Asked Questions
Bird watchers are called many things, including bird watchers, twitchers, and birders.
According to many sources, Mick Jagger is an avid bird watcher.
Jeremy Clarkson is a bird watcher and a member of the RSPB.