birds

why is bird-watching a past-time, while the watching of other sorts of animals isn’t sorted out as its own activity? We don’t specify mammal watchers or rodent watchers, or squirrel watchers, whatever level of definition would be comparable – mammals are the class, of course, but when people birdwatch, they aren’t going to look for penguins and emus in general, and I would accept a mammal equivalent with a smaller focus – or a reptile or amphibian equivalent… do people crocodile-watch, for instance? Maybe there are dog-watchers, people who go to the park to watch the dogs play….


Anyway. It seems like bird-watching is special, maybe because with mammals we get pets, but with birds, they a)live too long and b)need to be free, so the closest we can get to them is watching them in the wild. They are beautiful animals. This is the eagle cam, from which you can link to the owl cam and various other options. THen there is another owl here, and a sort of on-again off-again one here

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8 Responses to “birds”

  1. Carol Says:

    Seems to me bird watching is an intellectual exercise. There are so many varieties that it’s difficult learning all the names. It’s really much closer to learning the names of wild flowers and vegetation than crocodile watching would be since I don’t believe there are very many varieties of crocodiles. In a sense, when we were young, learning the names of mammals was a similar experience to bird watching, especially when studying them in zoos, because, there, we’d be reading of their native habitats, too. That’s another thing about birds. They could come from a wide variety of places whereas when you spot a crocodile or lion in nature, they are where they are native to. Don’t think most bird watchers aren’t excited when they spot a fox or bear, too. With many, that’s a big part of the reason they’re out there. But you can walk about the forest all day long without seeing any large mammals. Birds, however, are always there to be seen.

  2. Jack Says:

    Carol,

    You made some good points. But how would ‘whale watching’ fit into your scheme of qualified ‘watching’ appellations? There aren’t all that many varieties. And wherever they are is their terrain. You can figure they’ll be close enough to shore to be able to dive for food. And most people are more interested in being awed than learning many facts about them.

    Do whales migrate up and down the east coast, too? Here on the West Coast, I would recommend taking a Scripps Institute tour in San Diego if you should wish to observe whales close hand. They know how to do it. When a whale is spotted, they slowly approach. They take quite a while to catch up but when they do, you may find yourself running parallel with a whale just at your side, for quite some time, almost like you were a whale yourself. And of course, the Scripps people will provide you with much information, too.

    Contrast that with another trip I took further north, hoping to repeat the experience in Depoe Bay, Oregon. On that trip, whenever whales were spotted, the captain would gun the engines attempting to catch up with them and of course they would dive and never be seen again. I attempted to explain to the captain he’d be better off if he attempted to approach the whales slowly. But he looked at me like I was a. . . Well, you know.

    Jack Cass

  3. drinkme Says:

    of course! whales. can’t believe I forgot about them. Good point. And I suppose there are “mammal watchers” of a sort in african safaris… I suppose hunters & fishers are “watching” too. It still seems as if there is something particular to birds for some reason. I guess the idea that you can count on the birds to show up is part of it; you’ll always at least find a bluejay or something, even if you don’t see a hawk. But I still feel like there is something about their flight and their beauty that makes them appealing. I dunno, I’m kind of a sucker for birds, though, so that may be a personal bias.

  4. Barney Says:

    My guess is that bird watching came about when an Englishman was overheard by his girlfriend, Brenda, inviting a friend to go off to the beach with him for some bird watching.

    Catching Brenda out the corner of his eye and realizing he was in trouble, her boyfriend, Ned, pretended not to have seen her and asked of his friend, “So, Jim, do you have any binoculars so we can closely observe seagulls while at the beach? I’d like to learn the names of all the different varieties. Maybe we’ll get lucky and spot some Kittywakes today.”

    Jim, of course, looked at him, quizzically, and protested, “Seagulls? Are you kidding? I thought we were going out girl watching. Should be lots of bikinis out on the beach on a warm day like this.”

    Of course, since his steady was still there, in hearing range, Ned reacted with disdain, “How could you possibly have thought I meant that kind of bird?” And with that, a new hobby was launched.

    Brenda went along, too, on that first outing, and was, if anything, even more enthusiastic than Jim and Ned at each species of seagull discovered that day. Even so, Ned, now, receives all the credit as founder of bird watching, since it was he who initiated the idea.

    Barney the Would-be Clown

  5. Jack Says:

    I wish you could find us a streaming video of wild turkeys so we could feel like peeping Toms without legal concerns. All kidding aside, they are beautiful birds in the wilds, not at all like the big, fat ones on farms. I can see why Benjamin Franklin pushed for their becoming our national bird.

    Sounds like you enjoy soaring birds, such as hawks and eagles. I agree, they are fun to watch, especially when strong winds kick up. Seagulls can be amazing in some of the maneuvers they do. I like diving birds, too. In Florida, I got a kick out of watching pelicans diving into the ocean in pursuit of food. And in Tacoma, Washington, there was a hamburger joint looking out at the Pugit Sound where they had diving birds we could watch while dining.

    In Southeast Alaska, eagles could be in constant view. And yet I never grew weary of seeing them. Once I watched a poor, beleaguered eagle that was chased into a tree by about a dozen seagulls but not before they’d shit all over his back. And once there, the seagulls began doing dive bombs at the poor thing. He was literally ducking as they came at him. But he waited his chance and when he felt they’d become distracted, he dove toward them apparently seeking revenge. But one spotted him coming and called out warning as they quickly turned the tables on him, chasing him back into his tree. You’ve likely seen blackbirds being chased by little sparrows, much the same. Small birds can often outmaneuver bigger ones and give them a very bad time.

    As for whale watching, my most exciting spotting was in Hoonah, Alaska, a small village, mostly of Native Americans, one of whom I was dating at the time. We were by an old fish processing plant, no longer operative, where a picnic table was set up on a grassy knoll. Two boys were fishing on the shore when all of a sudden, several whales surfaced, only feet from the boys, sending the kids frantically scrambling up a slope toward us as I responded, “Holy Shit!” and grabbing a camera, went running down the slope to snap some photos. Now that was an experience I’ll never forget.
    Those are moments we live for, aren’t they?

  6. Carol Says:

    Jack,

    In answer to your question, I think whale watching would fall into the category of girl watching. Totally awesome to view and if you approach us slowly and with respect, we may just invite you to accompany us a while. But if you hit the gas and come on too strong, you may find us nowhere but in dives thereafter and not all that eager to meet you even there.

    Best regards,

    Carol

  7. Carol Says:

    Jack,

    It was the question you asked me on April 6th I was responding to. And I was attempting to play off what you’d said about the captain in Depot Bay.
    As for your question of yesterday, yes, that does sound like an awesome experience. And I agree, those are moments to live for.

    Best regards,

    Carol

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