Bird Loving

Posted by Mary Gwyn Bowen on

Birds are special.  There is something about birds that fascinates and inspires our curiosity.  Songs from birds in the trees can spur the urge to stop a few minutes to listen to the happy sounds. The sight of an unusual or uniquely marked bird brings up the birding app on the phone or google for identification.  You don't have to be a bird enthusiast to enjoy moments of pleasure from a bird encounter.

There are names of various levels of bird enthusiasts. Wiktionary says a person who loves birds is an ornithophile.  Thayer Birding says there are different types of people who watch birds. An Ornithologist is a studier of birds and likely has a professional degree in biology.  Clinton Atkins for Thayer Birding, describes the rest of the bird watching types as:

  • Twitchers
  • Birders
  • Listers
  • Dudes
  • Protobirders

From this list, my shortened description is that Twitchers are knowledgable bird chasers, while Birders are people who simply love watching birds as a hobby. A lister does exactly that, make extensive lists of birds from birdwatching.  A dude just likes to watch birds but doesn't go out of the way to watch. The newest term, Protobirders, is someone who enjoys watching birds and may have some bird knowledge.

After studying the list, I'm puzzled as to whether I am a Birder or a Protobirder.  I love watching birds.  I take a lot of bird photos.  And I paint cute little birds.  Definitely not a Twitcher, as I don't chase them. Probably not a lister, but I count my photos as a list of sorts.  I think I'll go with the Wiktionary description of ornithophile.  I am a lover of birds.

If I did decide to become more of a bird watcher, like maybe a twitcher, Clinton Atkins has a great list of items that are helpful to have on hand:

  • Birding Vest
  • Brimmed Hat
  • Bird Song App
  • Birdwatching Journal

Several years ago, I went on a couple of Bird Watching tours at the Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge in Florida.  Most of the people on the trip could probably be classified as either Twitchers and/or Listers  All of them had the above listed important items. I had only camera and binoculars.  I definitely could have used all of the things on the list.  The group was wonderful to me and were enthusiastic about pointing out various birds and letting me look through their telescopes.  If some were a little condescending about my novice status, the others made up for it with their joy in sharing their knowledge.  I came out of the adventure with many lovely photos, a whole lot of knowledge and a terrible sunburn, (no brimmed hat).

Jeff Mann of Because Birds says, "Nature has a way of surprising us, and birding is no exception."  That pretty much sums it up.  Birds are a constant surprise so I'll go on painting them, casually watching them and taking the occasional birding tour. With that, I'll refrain from typing myself and just say, I love birds!

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