This is a guest post from Natalie Hunter .
If you’ve dipped a tick on your big day list and the twitcher on the
next patch over is gripping you off about it, just keep in mind that
the bird may be twitchable and you might be able to tick it off your
big year or life list tomorrow.
A dedicated birdwatcher, or “birder” as those within the community refer to themselves, would have no trouble understanding the specialized jargon in the above sentence. Birdwatching as an organized pastime is becoming more popular than ever, especially among young people, as interest in conservation continues to grow. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that nearly 48 million Americans enjoy birdwatching as an organized hobby, a nearly 20 percent increase over similar estimates a decade ago.
This burgeoning interest has created a $31 billion-per-year industry
as companies from birdseed manufacturers to camera makers to travel companies specializing in birding tours position themselves to gather a share of the market catering to the wants of the birding community.
Much of this growth in birding can be attributed to the advent of the Internet, which has allowed millions of people to connect with others who share their passion for birdwatching. Young people especially have shown a great interest in birding, as the pastime allows them to take part in citizen science projects where their observations and recorded data can help build a better overall understanding of changes that may be occurring within bird populations.
To help young new birders ease into the hobby, below is a listing of some of the specialized jargon used within the birding community, starting with those in the first sentence of this article:
Dip: A failure to observe a reported rare bird on an outing. Example:
"I went to Jerry's favorite park to find the Red-headed Woodpecker he was bragging to me about, but I was dipped."
Patch: One's favored birding location or area. Also referred to as
"local patch," as in "The State Park along the river is my favorite
local patch for birding."
Tick: To add a newly sighted bird to one's lists. Derived from the
process of "ticking" off marks on a checklist.
Life list, Big day list, Big year list: Variations of the lists that
dedicated birders compile as a record of their observations. A Life
list is a complete record of all the species observed by a birder to
date. A Big day list is a record of all the species observed in a
single day, usually as part of an organized birding competition.
Similarly, a big year list is a record of a birder's observations for
a complete calendar year.
Twitch: The seeking out of a reported rare bird sighting, often
traveling long distances to do so, (twitching). Used as a noun
(twitcher), refers to a birder who twitches regularly in an effort to
see the rarest of birds.
Twitchable: Conversely, twitchable refers to a bird that is easy to
find in a local park.
Grip, Grip off: To brag to another birder about a rare sighting that
they have not made themselves. A good-natured form of bragging about one's birding prowess.
Now that the first sentence can be deciphered using the list above,
budding young birders can move ahead into the world of birding
confident that they won't become lost and confused by the jargon of
their respected birding elders. But just in case, there are a few more
comprehensive lists of birding jargon that can be found here and here.
Natalie is not a birder herself, but was inspired by her Aunt Jaime to do the post, because she and her husband are avid birders. Thanks for the article Natalie!