Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rebirth of Bird Watching

"Bird watching" sounds like such a back-to-nature pursuit: just me and my binoculars, hiding behind a bush and waiting for the birds to come out. But with digital cameras making high-quality photography cheap and accessible, and the Internet making sharing those pictures and swapping tips so much easier, birding has become a hobby for the technologically savvy too.
Today, there are crowd-sourced bird-mapping tools, birding packages that double as vacation getaways, birding blogs, birding iPhone apps, and remote-birding Web sites that don't require watchers to be present in the landscape at all. A few old-fashioned birders may still practice their hobby in isolation with binoculars and field guides, but the birding community, these days, has moved on to gather, check, and share sightings across great distances using the fruits of technological industry and the jumbo jet. 
This is from an amusing article about the different kinds of birders and the kinds of communities that they form. What the writer calls "privileged aloneness"–getting up to go birding before other people are even awake–seems like a good way to describe the attitude that many birders have.

The way I see it, it's as much about the birds as it is about immersing yourself in the community and its special culture. Just like hardcore runners (or cyclists, or computer geeks) have their own magazines, fashions, gear fads, the same with birders.

Those birds don't stand a chance.

1 comment:

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Great post! Reminds me why I'm of mixed thoughts about birding.