When you first start birding just about every bird you see seems like a good one. Then you start to familiarize yourself with all the species in your area and things change. You begin to grow tired of seeing common, everyday birds and start to search for migrants, rare birds or any species you haven't seen.
If you feel as though looking at common birds though your binoculars is a waste of time then you might be suffering from Avian Snob Syndrome :
Here are 5 signs that you may be suffering from this affliction:
1) "I could have seen one of those in my own backyard."
Have you ever been an organized birding field trip and thought to yourself-something along the lines of-"Let's get to the good stuff- I can see one of those birds in my own backyard" I've actually heard other birders say things like that during field trips on several occasions.
2) Have you seen anything good this morning?
Have you ever been out at a popular birding spot and asked another birder- "Have you seen anything good this morning."
What if their response was-"Yes, I saw a beautiful Cardinal and 2 nice Blue Jays, and a Mourning Dove."
I'm assuming that you would have a polite response but honestly, what would you really be thinking to yourself?
I've often heard experienced birders say "the usual suspects" in response to the same question which is another way of saying same old stuff. What is the crime a that these birds are suspected of committing?
3) The second you identify one common species you're already looking for the next.
See the bird-identify the bird and on to the next one. Most birds just aren't worthy of a second look-right?
4) You say that you like to study bird behavior-but for how long?
You study bird behavior-really? Lots of birders claim this but for how long -20 seconds? I doubt many birders spend a lot of time studying the behavior of common birds.
5) You subconsciously rate the species you see:
What would you rather see-A House Sparrow or a Cedar Waxwing? A Yellow-rumped Warbler or a Blackburnian Warbler? Chances are, you have an answer to those questions because many birders tend to place a value on each species they encounter. This might be based on rarity, appearance, or other factors but ask yourself this question. Is one species really better than another?
I wish that I could say that I'd be just as excited to see a catbird today as I was the first time I saw one. The truth is that I too have suffered from symptoms of Avian Snob Syndrome. If we dismiss 95% of the birds we see as being too common to be worth our attention then 95% of our time spent birding is also a waste of time. The good news is that we have a choice. With a little patience, creativity, and imagination we can continue to enjoy watching birds even if they're not listed on the daily rare bird report. I think it's worth the effort.