Sunday 2 October 2011

The end of birding as we know it?

Two things I've been trying to come to grips with lately. How is the hobby of birding changing?  And this proactive Danish culture that I am really coming to appreciate.

I'll start with the birding - as usual everything else comes second...

With the anticipated release of The Big Year coming soon many birders are wondering how the hollywood movie will change the birding demographic. Will there be me a mass increase of birders resulting in huge sales of Field Guides and Binoculars?

One blog post (the man the movie is about actually) made a bold prediction that over 175'000 new birders will be coming to the scenes!
Interesting thought when considering that many senior birders seem to often mention that the younger generation isn't taking much of an interest in nature (and as a result birds) as in the past.
Only time will tell but from my often pessimistic view on things I don't think there will be a noticeable increase of birders - at least not in the 'traditional' birding group.

This blog post summed it up quite well actually (a bit long but well worth the read - I've read it 3 times already actually).
The masses of new birders that join the hobby year after year (not only the young ones but the older ones too) seem to be more interested in bird feeding, backyard birds and strolls in the park. Whereas many of the serious birders would like to see the interest lie in listing and the details of bird identification - and as would I!

So how can we propagandize new birders into becoming serious birders instead of becoming feeder watchers?
Well that last blog post I linked had a pretty good idea:
Instead of telling people they should buy binoculars and field guides maybe we can start by telling them they should buy a camera (most people do already have one anyway!) - tell them to go out and photograph some birds. Then they can use the WWW to help identify the birds.

In fact, that's exactly how I started. It was a cold, dark and lonely winter in Montreal when I decided to buy a camera to find something to do. The first time I went out with it I ended up staring at woodpeckers for several hours through the viewfinder in -20 C weather:

One of my first bird photos ever!

I was instantly hooked! After showing the photos off to my family and friends my obsession only grew. I quickly insisted that my mother send me the family bird field guide via express. I started following the local bird sightings board (sometimes every hour during those long days at work) and started chasing for Snowy Owls, Eurasian Wigeon and Barrow's Goldeneye in the Montreal region - without much success I should add. I was still loving it though because almost any bird was a new bird at that time. And then April hit and I saw my first Grebe and Eastern Phoebe... In fact I thought those birds were going to be the best of the best. But damn, was I wrong - I didn't even know what a warbler or shorebird was!

So, perhaps Gunnar is right. A new method of recruiting will help convince others to join us in our great hobby!

I was going to write something about Danish culture and the influence it has had on me over the past month of living here. But that'll have to wait!

But you can read a short article about the wankers in Malta that claim that not being permitted to kill birds is causing psychiatric disorders!