I first donned binoculars In about 1976 while taking Zoology at university. I learned most of the Province's birds first through the study skins during labs, then hit the 'field' at Stanley Park and Reifel Bird Sanctuary. Then followed a couple of years of bird and wildlife surveys for various Government agencies, and several years of just kicking around the province gathering data for inclusion in The Birds of British Columbia publications and The Royal British Columbia Museum.
On my return to the East Kootenay, I took it upon myself, in more than my spare time, to learn MS Access and digitize many of the bird sighting records of long-time local naturalist, Mildred White, whose belief was also that these data be readily available to the public. That effort resulted in about 22,000 historical East Kootenay sightings (give or take a couple thou) being uploaded to eBird. Mrs. White passed away shortly after I began.
I would say I am now a birder: take part in organized counts, volunteer as regional reviewer for eBird, and get out birding locally as much as possible. I have a little blue SUV and I am a bit of a Trekkie.