Birding - LOTRO's Next Hobby

LOTRO Birding - What We know so far from Orion's Stream pre Bullroarer.

Having been part of the LOTRO community for only seven or eight years in its seventeen year lifespan (so far!) I couldn’t even guess how long players have wanted a new Hobby. But the only one in the game so far is fishing. But in a recent LOTROstream, Orion teased us a new Hobby in the works: Birding. So let’s take a dive – or maybe a swoop – and have a look.

What is Birding? Is it a Real Thing?

Birding, also known as Birdwatching is a real-world hobby. My parents tried to do it around work life. From gazing at those found in the garden, to others found on the (exceedingly rare) holiday abroad, they would want to know the birds they could find.

Some are seriously committed. We used to have a neighbour who would look for news of rare bird sightings in the UK and make a trip to the other end of the country in the hope of seeing it. He called it “twitching”, though whether that term stuck – especially in the era of livestreams – I don’t know.

Why have Birding in LOTRO?

Orion mentioned that they’ve wanted to create a new Hobby for a long time. Clearly they have to have dev time for what I call “Serendipity” – doing things because they’re nice to do, without any business or profit logic per se. It’s something for all existing players, whether they’ve ever paid into LOTRO or not.

Back to Orion, roughly speaking he said the idea was to get you to think about what it’s like being in the game world. Any who role-play, or even have a head-canon for your characters, this is just part of the deal. Other players may join for the group content, the gear progressions, whatever. We all have our reasons to play in Middle-earth.

Birdwatching Immersion

By introducing Birding as a Hobby, we are encouraged to slow down and engage in the area around us. Doing what I’ve often referred to as “Stop and Stare” (A reference to “Leisure” by William Henry DaviesExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab)). Orion mentioned there could be over six hundred bird types in the game world to discover over time. Do we notice many as we dash from quest-to-quest or teleport between daily zones just for the XP, rather than for the experience?

Engrossed in the Area

In Orion’s words, they want you to be “engrossed in the area you’re in”. Or “Stop and Stare”. Birdwatching in the real world is a patience test. Birds are easily startled – they are prey creatures, we are predators. Many birds are small, we are not.

So, I reckon the idea is to slow yourself down, enjoy being in Middle-Earth and if you spot your bird, great! If you don’t, then that’s not a gaming session wasted, but a relaxing time in LOTRO. That is worth having.

How Birding Might Work

I’ll emphasis might. It is still in we move towards

Go Places

Visiting a Swan on behalf of Radagast the Brown.

While there may be some way to track birds, anywhere you can find birds you’ll be able to “officially” find them. So, go exploring.

Orion said they were looking at tracking abilities/skills. So, it sounds a bit more involved than the one-button LOTRO Fishing experience we currently have. That’s a good thing, by the way!

Bird Calls

Attending a poisoned bird in the Wildwoods of Bree-land

Different birds have different calls and so there will be a link there in how you find species. Whether you have to imitate the call, or discover how to use the call, I wasn’t sure.

JUst finishing

But this will be a large area for the dev team, as there are a lot of individual bird sounds already in existence in LOTRO.

Scan and Find

The LOTRO White-headed Hawk Pet on the ground.

You will need to scan the horizon to try and find your bird. Now, they’re working to find a lore-appropriate mechanism, or item, that could be used. Magnifiers exist in LOTR, but I wasn’t sure about telescopes or binoculars. I’ll be intrigued to see the item and where the inspiration came from.

His words were: spyglass, birding “kit” (a bit too vague for my liking!) or a binocular (if they can justify/prove it).

Rarer Birds

Not all birds in the world have healthy populations. In the same way I mentioned about my old neighbour trying to see a rare bird, Orion mentioned they’re looking at that too. My parents took us to some places to try and see one particular bird – the last one was a Purple HeronExternal Link (Opens in New Window/Tab), but it wasn’t showing itself during our time, unfortunately.

From Orion, they’re considering things like special birdfood/seed that may help to draw out rarer birds.

Other Points

  • This could lead to possible birding festivals.
  • Birds could appear during transitions/seasons, as well as locales. I (FJ) would also like variances such as rain, thunderstorms, snow storms, cloudy and sunny days. But that gets mighty complex after a few layers of variation!
  • Birding would have rewards, housing items and titles etc.
Tome of the Friendly Heron Pet | Before the Shadow | Collectors Edition
Tome of the Friendly Heron
Before the Shadow Collectors Edition

When Will Birding Start in LOTRO?

Orion was hoping for it to hit a first round of Bullroar testing shortly after this week. So sometime during the second week of June.

Initial Birding Questions

Here are some questions I managed to pick up from other players. I hope I’ve explained Orion’s answers faithfully enough.

How Will Found Birds Be Tracked?

They’re going to add a section in the Collections Panel. Given you don’t physically capture the birds, they needed another way to keep track of them, without adding another item or system. So, into the Collections Panel. And I think that makes some sense.

See it as a “Birding Log”.

Is the “Camera” Detachable, So We Can Look High in the Sky?

Not at this point. I would love to be able to detach the camera, personally. The opportunities for screenshot variances would, excuse the pun, skyrocket.

Orion said they are looking into it, but they have a possible issue should you disconnect while in “flying camera mode”. Okay “flying camera mode” was my wording, but you get the idea. The game needs to know your exact coordinates when you log out so you’re put back into the correct place next time – and that sets the camera’s position and angle. If the camera is split from the character, you have basically two locations that may not even be close. So, it’s complicated.

Will We Be Able to Taxiderm the Birds?

No! This is not about hunting or killing birds, but watching them and noting that you’ve found them. Then, slip away leaving the birds very much alive.

Are Any Other Hobbies in the Works?

Orion stated that they see Birding as the “First Next” Hobby. He said that other hobbies are being “spec’d” – probably something like being written down, planned, figured out etc.

Either way, after years of waiting for other ways to spend time in Middle-Earth, the SSG team are looking into multiple Hobbies. And that’s got to be good for the game.

Being Spec’d

Thank you to Dandelion on my Patreon Page, for clarifying:

“Being spec’d” means having a “functional specification document” written. Old school game design term.

TL;DR Get Ready to Test Birding on Bullroarer

By the time I get this out, it’s totally possible s the that Bullroarer will be open! That’s because my priority has been on Midsummer. But get ready to prime your Bullroarer install and copy characters over. Birding is coming – and like birds, you’ll need to find bugs.

But do remember to find the positives in it too. This is supposed to be a relaxing way to spend time in LOTRO. Treat it that way and I think, whether you’re inclined to the great outdoors in the real world or not, that you may find Birdwatching surprisingly relaxing – and maybe, dare I say it, a little challenging!

About the Author

Fibro Jedi
Fibro Jedi

I have been playing MMOs for about ten years and began writing guides to The Lord of the Rings Online in 2017. I've only been creating content about Final Fantasy XIV since 2022, but I am glad for the mix. My current games include LOTRO, FFXIV and the occasional Palia session too.

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