Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nature Conservancy finally notices tech-savvy birders

From The Nature Conservancy:

Adrianna Zito, an intern for The Nature Conservancy, was unsure of what to expect when she accepted a seasonal position at New Jersey’s Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge [also known as The Meadows -akh].

“I didn’t have much experience with birds or birders. My mental image of birders consisted of people with British accents sporting tweed hats, matching khaki outfits, tattered field guides and binoculars!”
Spare me from the outdated stereotypes. Fortunately, the article improves.


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“So imagine my surprise” continues Zito “when a group of birders rushed the gates waving around Apple iPhones instead of the tattered, dog-eared field guides and notebooks I was expecting!”

One of the birders hurriedly explained to Adrianna that he had just received a tweet that an elusive black rail was spotted about 50 feet into the main trail. With that, the birders disappeared down the trail. Sure, some wore khaki, all had binoculars, and one even wore the obligatory tweed cap. But these are not your parent’s birders.
Birders definitely range in their age, attire and adoption of technology. Gobs of birders adopted the World Wide Web years ago and eagerly embrace new high-tech gadgets and software that might make identifying and finding birds easier and more enjoyable.

The article also includes words of advice from Don Freiday, who writes the Backyard Safari articles in each issue of WildBird:

“I’d like to think that increased access to bird reports will inspire more people to go out birding more often, and get away from technology for a while! However, there is a tendency for people in any activity to behave like sheep and follow the herd — meaning, follow someone else’s discoveries rather than make their own.

“So yes, go see a bird you’ve heard about, but enjoy the whole experience of birding, too — it’s about the bird in front of you, what it’s doing, where it’s going and how to identify it the next time you see the same species.”

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