Birders. People who love birds. And to some, even other birders, to a point of bizarre craziness that leaves heads shaking... or a burst out of laughter.
I was reminded today of how nutty birders can be. Never mind the gasps you occasionally hear, as their breath is taken away by the sight of something as beautiful as a male Scarlet Tanager (see below).
I am talking about the rush, the flock, the masses of people that come charging at the sight of something not so commonly seen because one person shouts out something like "Black-billed Cuckoo!" and catches the ear of 20 or 30 others. I was not there for this moment (Angie and I left about an hour earlier) but a few friends were. And I can only visualize it in my head how it must have looked.
It seems a couple people took notice to this not commonly seen bird in a tree. And as I understand a light bit of talk about this between two people was overheard by another who basically yelled out in full booming voice to anyone in the vicinity. And boy was his call heard by other birders who came running in from every direction, separating through the shrubs of dogwood, tripping over logs, slipping on wet grass to get a glimpse of this bird. From what my one friend said, basically it was enough to send the bird flying off late this morning, and nearly ten hours later, is probably still on the move, fleeing the park.
It's a laughable scene to me, I wasn't there, so no point in getting angry about the yelling individual and the stress put on this bird with people charging in from every direction. I just watched "The Big Year" again with Angie last night. It's a fun and light movie about birding, not every detail is correct, but most of us who take part in this "passion" will get it. And many of us have had a moment like this or heard a similar tale.
Lucky for me, I chanced upon this Black-billed Cuckoo in my travels June 2011. I was alone and not a soul was around to share him with. Not that you'd ever hear me yell out like the above tale.
And with this, I am taken back to May of 2011. Our first trip to Point Pelee National Park; Angie and I went with our good friends Jim and Lynda. It was 3 days of birding in the area. And I am not sure what day this happened on but the rest of the story is crystal clear. We were sitting in the picnic area with probably 60 other birders. Everybody relaxing after their walks that morning. Suddenly someone comes over to the area and says rather loudly "Tennessee Warbler over here!" and pointing to an area just behind him. And in mere seconds, everybody, and I mean it when I say "everybody" got up and ran to the trail nearby where this bird was just spotted. Lunches were left, camera equipment too. Thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment left all over the picnic area with no one watching over anything. Even purses sat on the tables too! A thief would have scored!
It was at that moment, after viewing this bird, that we said to each other... "this was our initiation into the next level of birding". We basically had our super geek moment, where to any non-birder, we surely looked like a bunch of lunatics. And to look at this little Warbler, a very drab dull species indeed. In the world of song birds, the females are the less colorful of the two sexes. But trust me on this, that the male doesn't give off much more of a "wow" factor to see. Sure, they are a pretty little species of Warbler but nothing spectacular to view.
The funny ending to this tale is two weeks later we are at a bird banding station just outside of the GTA and what do I get to band... a female Tennessee Warbler! As I held this tiny little bird, I said to her, "you sure caused a huge commotion back in Pelee the other week". I don't remember in the craze of it all if we were viewing a male or a female. Seemed it didn't matter, it was a Tennessee, another species for many peoples' list.
A video was recently made called "Shit Birders Say". It has a lot of good points in it on the basic adventures with most birders.
You'll have to agree that birders are a crazy lot. Mostly loveable but definitely a little off.
We have had many birding adventures this Spring with migration and more to come. Hope to have another tale to share!