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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Looking at Birds

Pam and I are not birders although, like most people who enjoy the outdoors, we look at birds and try to identify and understand what we're looking at. My friend Larry Fox who died last year was the only real birder I knew, but I never really questioned him about his past-time although we sometimes went out into the wild together, he with binoculars and me with a fishing rod.

I have the impression that the term "birding" gained favor over "bird-watching" because some people didn't like the image of the old term which seemed to be presented in movies and TV as a predominantly feminine hobby that was often the subject for ridicule. Maybe when more men got interested in the activity, they decided they wanted to be identified with a new term that would be viewed as active rather than passive. Larry was a thoughtful person and would have had something to say about this, so I'm sorry I never got around to asking.

On a walk in the park recently, Pam and I encountered a woman who was obviously an enthusiastic birder. She told us about an on-line site where a person could instantly file a report about the species observed and the time and place. She said that an observation made from indoors, such as looking out from your house at a bird feeder in your yard, had to be so indicated, and she implied that such reports were somehow viewed as lesser than reports made from a person outdoors. At home we visited the site (ebird), but we didn't note such distinctions which may only be apparent when you actually complete the on-line form to submit a report. However, we did find the report the woman submitted that day, and she noted 18 species in an hour of viewing in the park.

The birder also mentioned that "our" park had been designated as a "hot spot" for seeing birds. That's nice to hear, and it's also nice that we now have an internet site to visit occasionally to see what the experts have seen there which we may have missed.

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