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Thread: A Most Natural Hobby

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    A Most Natural Hobby

    During the course of investigating a particular hobby online, I encountered the following names in association with it:

    Brown Trembler
    Spangled Drongo
    Guttulated Foliage Gleaner
    Ningbing False Antechinus
    Dickcissel
    Red Faced Booby
    Willy Wagtail
    Shag
    Steamerduck
    Fluffy Backed Tit Babbler

    It may surprise you to learn these are actually the names of birds (my sincere apologies to those with backgrounds in either plumbing or proctology who may be disappointed upon learning that the aforementioned ‘Brown Tremblers’ and ‘Steamerducks’ are not those involved in their respective vocations – we can always start a different thread on that later!).

    Based on nothing more than those whimsical names I have to conclude birders must be a very odd breed. When I hear the term ‘birder’, I automatically picture in my mind’s eye a frail, bespectacled Englishman with a 19th century pith helmet and a pair of binoculars perched in a tree trembling with excitement upon catching a glimpse of a rare Yellow Belly Sapsucker. I’m sure the hobby in reality actually has a much broader base and appeal than that! In fact I’ll bet most birders are probably the very same people that enjoy hiking, camping, canoeing, and many other outdoor activities. I’m sure there are varying degrees of interest and involvement in the hobby too. I understand some folks are really into the photography/cataloging end of things, while others enjoy the outdoors and just find a little satisfaction from being able to identify various birds by sound or sight. I know my in-laws keep a copy of “Peterson’s North American Birds” on their coffee table in the living room to occasionally refer to it when spotting an interesting bird at the feeder placed near the picture window.

    How about you, any avid birders out there? Does anyone make special trips to find birds and bird sanctuaries? To what extent do you consider yourself a birder?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    As an avid birder myself, I must admonish you for excluding two North American tit species from your list:
    • Tufted Titmouse
    • Bridled Titmouse

    More information about the tit family can be found on the Wikipedia.

    The tit birds sure are cute, but they are indeed quite small. [ cyburbia doesn't let you say t i t s ]

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    We enjoy bird watching and also have feeders. Yes there the "book" by the window overlooking the feeders. We also enjoy going out into areas to bird watch. We are not serious to the extent of keeping records but more of the recreational variety.
    I am lucky that there is an eagle nest near where I work and I have observed an eagle soaring through the undeveloped portion of our industrial park about 15 to 20 above the ground. I have seen an eagle swooping into the river in our city and coming up with a fish.
    We had falcons nesting on city hall the last couple of years and there are evenings when they play in the air by the bell tower in the church across the street.
    No I definitely do not fit the physical description that first comes to mind when the word bird watcher is used.
    Like everything else in life, we all come in various shapes, and sizes and likes and dislikes.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    As I mentioned this morning in another thread, I am a birdwatcher. I usually have a guidebook close at hand near the window that looks out onto my feeder, and I usually carry a book hiking with me and have a small-pocket sized version for my fly fishing vest.
    While I do not actively look for a rare species (as listed by the CoBirds Website, I do enjoy knowing what I am seeing and birdwatching allows me to be more in tune with my surroundings.
    My area of Northern Colorado offers a great variety of migratory species including an inland haven for Pelicans (hence my CFFL Team Name). Also, because I am living out in farm country, the crop fields and wetlands nearby as well as the small river basins offer a vast variety of species to view from Owls, to common Blackbirds, Finches, and Nighthawks (a bird that spent the day with us on our deck over Labor Day resting for the night).
    Also, when Christmas and New Years find me in Northern Idaho, I usally visit the BLM stations along Coeur d'Alene Lake to see the Bald Eagles that perch to grab the post-spawning tired salmon in the lake.

    A great a most natural hobby that calms the soul!
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Not only did I recognize many of the names on that list, I have actually seen a Dickcissel!

    Yes, I am an avid birder, though I would describe my birding skills as intermediate rather than expert. My lifelist, as of this moment, is a mere 358 species, not including 14 outside North America. (A lifelist is a list of all the bird species you have ever seen, usually with the location and date.) Although we've had bird feeders for many years, I've only been an active birder for five or six years.

    Contrary to the various stereotypes, birders come in all shapes and sizes. According to a report conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001:

    The average birder is 49 years old and more than likely has a better than average income and education. She is slightly more likely to be female, and highly likely to be white and married. There is also a good chance that this birder lives in the northern half of the country in a small city or town. Does this paint an accurate picture of a birder? Like all generalizations the description of an “average” birder does not reflect the variety of people who bird, with millions falling outside this box.
    Birders do tend to be higher income:

    The higher the income and education level the more likely a person is to be a birder. Twenty-seven percent of people who live in households that earn $75,000 or more were bird-watchers — 5 percent above the national average of 22 percent.
    Subsequent studies at various locations (in AZ and TX, for example) have found that birders' expenditures while traveling to engage in their favorite activity has a substantial economic impact. Not surprisingly, tourism organizations and agencies are increasingly going after this market, organizing bird trails, birding festivals, and so on.

    Last year, I spent $$$$ for a birding tour of southeastern Arizona. I added more than 100 species to my list during that trip, with assistance from the trip leader and my fellow birders. I tend to prefer quality views of a bird (e.g., a close look, or watching birds feed their young) over quantity, though -- I'm not one of those birders who is completely obsessed with expanding his or her list.

    OK, I've prattled on enough...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Contrary to the various stereotypes, birders come in all shapes and sizes. According to a report conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001:
    I am a married white male in my mid-20s. Definitely a solo artist in my age group. Although, last May at the family cabin in the Colorado Rockies, I got my buddy into the game by observing various species of Sapsuckers in the nearby pines.

    He bought the fabulous Sibley's Guide to Western Birds soon after.


    As for spending $$$ on a Birding expedition, I have yet to do such a thing, but I have wanted to after reading The Big Year (check that book out, highly entertaining). I did want to spend some dough on a birdwatching class at the local Community College (including Saturday morning field trips!)
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It isn't just birding. The natural world offers us many good plant names as well. How about hoary puccoon? hairy chestnut? pussytoes?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    And here I thought that this thread was going to be about a completely different hobby.

    But on topic, there was a research project done a few years a go to study the Woodcock population in the Upper Peninsula.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    And here I thought that this thread was going to be about a completely different hobby.

    But on topic, there was a research project done a few years a go to study the Woodcock population in the Upper Peninsula....
    ...typed the newlywed!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    And here I thought that this thread was going to be about a completely different hobby.
    Do you mean something that could be called a "Natural, ZESTY Enterprise?"
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I'm not much into birding, though I admire and respect the creatures (and can even identify a few).

    I did want to share this anecdote from my sister-in-law: When she was in elementary school, they had some class exercise to draw their favorite bird. My SIL drew a picture of bird clawing at a walnut with prickly protrusions on its breast. When asked about it by the teacher, she replied that it was her father's favorite bird - The Hairy Chested Nut Scratcher!

    Turns out her father had made many such off-color remarks when she was a kid with his wry sense of humor (ie. no indication that this was actually a joke) and it got her in trouble more than once. Evidently the teacher spent a good deal of time looking through the field guides for that particular species (who knew she may have had one at home...).
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    I'm a birder. Subscribe to the Iowa rare bird alert. We had a Wood Stork in Iowa last week for only the second time in recorded birding history.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  13. #13
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I saw a whole bunch of cedar waxwings in our back yard this weekend!

    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I've been known to be a naturalist. I guess that's a hobby.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Niiice sighting, Maister. Cedar Waxwings are so beautiful!

    It's funny to read my post to this thread from 2.5 years ago. At that time, my North American lifelist was a mere 358 species... now it's up to a *whopping* 374. It gets more difficult to find additional species once you're over, say, 200, unless you can travel to new places. Unfortunately, a big trip isn't in the cards for me for 2010.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Not only did I recognize many of the names on that list, I have actually seen a Dickcissel!
    I've seen a dickcissel too! I took a summer ornithology course during undergrad and it was the most enjoyable college class I had by a mile. I remember thinking it would become a regular hobby for me.

    Five years later and I can identify an indigo bunting and tell the difference between fish crow and American crow calls. Other than that... not so much. Maybe I'll pick it up again when I fit the prevailing demographic a little better...
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    A niece of mine has helped create a national web-based log-in site for sightings, and invites everyone to have a look.



    http://www.aviatlas.com/

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    It isn't just birding. The natural world offers us many good plant names as well. How about hoary puccoon? hairy chestnut? pussytoes?
    I planted a rusty blackhaw (viburnum rufidulum) and have to pull parthenosisus quinquefolium like weeds.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 16 Feb 2010 at 4:46 PM. Reason: seq. posts

  18. #18
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I saw a bunch of cedar waxwings yesterday. Maybe it's a migratory thing, but I'm looking at the last posting date and it coincides almost exactly with one year since the last sighting. Coincidence?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    It has been cold enough in WI this year that many streams and rivers have remained closed making it difficult for many birds including eagles to fly at this time of year since they lack food.

    Its mating time for bald eagles, and I am looking for them to be dooing the mating dogfight over the WI river any day now! I should be able to see them from my desk.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I've been seeing bald eagles soaring around the Appleton area, near the Fox River, in great numbers over the past couple of weeks, including one flying dangerously low over the WI 441 freeway on Appleton's northeast side just yesterday.

    Mike

  21. #21
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Some random geekery for Maister.

    I LOVE birds. I wouldn't consider myself a "birder" as I do not actively seek out bird watching opportunities. Though, I truly love birds, enjoy watching them, adore listening to them, and have often considered starting some sort of bird-rescue sanctuary for abandoned pet parrots.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I have been a casual birder, and have accompanied much more serious birders on many occassions. Once I was in Moscow (back in the USSR, at that time) with a few people who were quite serious birders, so we saw a lot of European birds and added many new ones to our life lists. Well, they weren't all that serious, as we had some fun with the bird known as the "great tit" ("I see a pair of great ...!") and on cold days, seeing the bird known as the "blue tit." What can I say, it was March, gray and cold, under an oppressive socialistic regime, and the food was truly shitty.

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    During the course of investigating a particular hobby online, I encountered the following names in association with it:

    Brown Trembler
    Spangled Drongo
    Guttulated Foliage Gleaner
    Ningbing False Antechinus
    Dickcissel
    Red Faced Booby
    Willy Wagtail
    Shag
    Steamerduck
    Fluffy Backed Tit Babbler
    Let me add this to the Stuff you know they're pulling out of their asses thread. "Yup, I saw a Yellow-Bellied Nut Warbler and a Variegated Gobknobbler yesterday,"
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I saw a bunch of cedar waxwings yesterday. Maybe it's a migratory thing, but I'm looking at the last posting date and it coincides almost exactly with one year since the last sighting. Coincidence?
    Do you eBird? I checked My eBird records today and was thinking of Eastern Bluebirds. Two years ago, a pair showed up in my backyard on 2/8/09. Then last year, a pair arrived on 3/6/10. Considering the weather we've been having, I think it will be awhile before they show up this year. I have two nest boxes ready to go up when the weather breaks and the ground clears.

  25. #25
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas? View post
    Do you eBird? I checked My eBird records today and was thinking of Eastern Bluebirds. Two years ago, a pair showed up in my backyard on 2/8/09. Then last year, a pair arrived on 3/6/10. Considering the weather we've been having, I think it will be awhile before they show up this year. I have two nest boxes ready to go up when the weather breaks and the ground clears.

    Bubo is also a good listing application. http://www.bubo.org
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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