Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rating My Interest In Random Birding Topics

(morning Scene from Wangunk Meadows in Portland)
( adult male Northern Harrier (gray ghost) which I saw at the meadows last weekend)

 While I'm out birding at various places I often run into other people who strike up conversations with me (or vice versa) about birds or other aspects of nature. While we may not always share the same views, I can still appreciate listening to someone who is passionate about their interests. 

 The following topics have some up over the years on more than one occasion. I've added a few personal thoughts and assigned a rating of 1-10 based on my level of interest in each topic.The higher the number the greater the interest.

Preserved Land- 9 : I've probably spent hundreds of hours exploring Wangunk Meadows Wildlife Management Area (above) and get really fired up when I discover a new place that has land which has been set aside for preservation. What stops it from scoring a 10? Some of these protected lands turn out to be duds when it comes to birding action.

Rare Birds-6 : I don't get overly excited about sightings of rare birds unless they are super rare, super interesting to look at, or  I've never seen one before. My favorite part of driving out to see a reported rarity is that it is like a concert event for birders. It's fun to be a part of the scene.

Native Plants- 5: I believe its a good idea to use native plants when  landscape you backyard but I don't think the birds are always impressed. I visited one field on several occasions that has been cleaned out and replanted with a variety of native grasses. I've never seen any of the birds there that they were hoping to attract.Also, I've noticed that birds seem to eat the berries off of non-native plants just as much as the native ones. They don't care-they just want food! Unfortunately, birds eating everything also leads to the spreading of  invasive plants.

Invasive plants-7 : There's some nasty invasive plants out there that like to wrap their vines around trees or choke out other plants. I hate the chore of having to pull them up out of my backyard. it seems like a lost cause but I give thanks to those who go to park and preserves to try to clean them out.

Introduced Birds-9: I don't understand why people get so worked up about species of birds that were brought here by us against without their consent. House Sparrows, European Starlings, Mute Swans etc. are here to stay unless nature decides otherwise so why stress about it? I guess the melting pot mentality does not extend to birds. I wonder if there would be a campaign to destroy House Sparrows if they looked and acted like bluebirds? Something to think about.
Have you Seen Any Eagles?-7: This has been one of the most common questions that others ask me when they notice I'm carrying  binoculars. Sometimes I get a little tired of the question. Then I remember a time when I rarely saw them so I am thankful that I can now see Bald Eagles almost every time I'm out birding in my area.There are a lot of people who aren't into birding that think eagles are cool so it's a good conversation starter.

Species that are difficult to identify-4: I never liked piecing together the blue sky section of a puzzle and in the same way I don't like the challenge of scrutinizing tiny details in birds. I prefer species that are easy to identify and have very distinct markings of their own. I get bored with picking out a difficult to identify gull or trying to tell the difference between a Western and Eastern whatever look-a-like. However, if there are other birders around who are into that stuff then I'll be glad to listen to their identification pointers and let them do the work for me.

Brand of binoculars-3: I used to hear a lot about top of the line binoculars but the cheaper binoculars have gotten better so I don't hear much talk about this binocular versus that binocular much anymore.

Reporting Rare Birds-4:  I generally only report a bird it if I think it is truly rare or uncommon in a specific area. If I don't have a photo of it or feel that it's unlikely to be relocated I might just let it go because I don't want to be bothered with the scrutiny. Sometimes I just use e-bird.

Bird photography-7 : I don't know how to properly use the settings on a camera and don't  like the challenge of using one. I just want results. When I see photographers I sometimes ask them for advice. If it weren't for the fact that I need bird photos for this blog then I don't know if I would bother using one. 

Elitist Birders-5: On many occasions I've heard complaints about elitist birders. I don't really know who they are or really care but I'm sometimes amused by some of the stories I hear.

Dishonest Birders-2 : Obviously it's wrong to make false reports about bird sightings and it makes me curious as to why someone would do such a thing. I don't really get fired up about the topic. The idea that those who are suspected of such an act are shunned from the birding community for life is more interesting than the act itself.

 So there you have it. My ratings of random birding topics. Are any of these hot button topics for you or do you have one of your own? 


webradiosatellite2 said...

Great pictures and lovely birds



troutbirder said...

Actually I think my ratings would be very similar on most of these topics. I am big on native prairie restoration for lots of reason but traveling for miles and seeing only corn and soybeans is really tedious....:)

Cathy said...

These were great! Thought-provoking. Love your take on introduced species :)

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, you are very pragmatic, but I know you enjoy nature and the birds and that is why I like you. You also have a great sense of humor. I am glad you are not an elitist birder! This was a fun read!

P.S. I care about preserving bird habitat and the birds and I agree with you about the invasive species for the most part.

Unknown said...

You always have fascinating topics! I agree w/ almost all if your assessments.. And love the "Blue Sky" analogy to distinguishing this from that with small variations.

I would add that native plants are important for feeding native insects, which feed baby birds. Most baby birds are fed on caterpillars, so Bitter Sweet or Autumn Olive Berries don't cut it and destroy valuable habitat. give those native grasslands a chance.

Surprised about your "take" on photography.. You're so good at it! live the Harrier shot. P.S. I saw one today..

Larry said...

Thanks for the comments. Sometimes I'm just trying to get a post idea out of my head before I over-analyze and abandon it so my thoughts on these topics in some cases are just what I was thinking at the moment.