Monday, April 22, 2013

A Random Contemplation

It seems whenever I come back from birding somewhere; be it my backyard, a park, or anywhere; someone always asks me "See anything good?". My reply is usually "Well, I saw *insert list of species here*." I never actually answer the question.
But what makes a bird a 'good bird'?

The Pink-footed Goose is considered a good bird in America. Whenever one gets blown over here, people come from all over the country to see it. But in Europe, the Pink-footed Goose is considered a pest.
It's the same the other way around. If, say, an American Robin got blown over to England, the poor thing would be mobbed by birders lugging hundreds of pounds of optics just to get a look at a bird we Americans dismiss as 'just a robin'. So I guess location is one of the ingredients in the 'good bird formula'.

Another ingredient, I think, has to do with the personal experience of a birder. When I had just started birding, any bird was good. I would spend hours watching chickadees at the feeder, and I distinctly remember running out in my pajamas in the freezing cold to see Piliated Woodpeckers chase each other around a tree trunk. Of course, I was six years old, but I'm sure every beginning birder has moments similar to that. And of course, if the bird is a lifer, it is most definitely a good bird.

If a good bird is defined by its location and its observer's experience, then isn't every bird a good bird somewhere, and to someone?
There are, of course, some birds that are always good, regardless of where they are or the number of times you've seen them. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper, for example. There are so few left that whenever one is seen it's an amazing find.
The definition of a good bird is more complicated than I thought.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Katie,

    I was wondering if you wanted to take a look at my blog. I have a bluebird box, and they hatched yesterday! It's a private blog, so I need your email address. You can email me at sweetiesplace27(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks! :)



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