Monday, July 17, 2006

"Birdwatcher" or "birder," part 2

The last few days, the comments to last Monday's post have been rolling around my head. I wanted to know when folks began to use "birder" in addition to "birdwatcher," who created the distinction between the terms and how the different attitudes developed. Are the terms helpful, exclusionary, confusing?

Then John posted some thoughts this morning.

I trace my first exposure to the term birder with the formation of the American Birding Association in about 1970-1971. I was initially (and still am, to some extent) turned off by the ABA's emphasis on listing. Among the birding elite, a birdwatcher may be viewed with some disdain as someone who is less accomplished or sophisticated in the identification of birds, even though that person may be extremely knowledgeable about the birds of their backyard or neighborhood. ... These days I generally identify myself as a birder (not wanting to be derided as one of those birdwatchers!), though I remain much more interested in watching (and listening) than in mere listing.
So who else became aware of "birder" via ABA's genesis? How common is it to encounter "birdwatcher" used derisively?

I know a fair number of listers who maintain various tallies but know tons about the birds' behaviors, calls, songs, etc. Are they unusual? Maybe, maybe not... but they're more than I.D. collectors. They're well-versed naturalists who think of listing as a game that adds even more fun to birding, not as the point of birding.

It can be easy to categorize ourselves and our birding companions into black-and-white groups. I wonder, though, if it's to the community's detriment.

Waiting for your input...


Blogger John L. Trapp said...

To be fair, the terms "birdwatcher" and birder" are largely synonymous. Birding skills overlap broadly, and a person who considers themselves a birdwatchwer may be no more or less accomplished or knowledgeable than a hardcore birder. There have been many discussions about the differences on various listservs. It is generally agreed that there is broad overlap, and any differences are largely ones of personal perception. But then again, consider that Birdwatcher's Digest is aimed at a general audience, while ABA's Birding magazine is aimed at a more advanced audience.

July 17, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger shawnkielty said...

I did manage to see a Harris Hawk! I manged to see one on the wires above as I spun by on my bicycle.

July 21, 2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger shawnkielty said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 21, 2006 10:36 PM  
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March 18, 2007 2:43 PM  

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