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Requesting material for 'Tips for New Birders' post


Charlie Spencer
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/19/2021 at 1:40 PM, Aveschapines said:

If you like to photograph birds, don't sacrifice field observation for a photo. Try to watch the bird as much as possible and make getting photos a secondary goal

EMPHASIZE THIS! There are far too many people these days that call themselves birders when they’re really just bird photographers.

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59 minutes ago, IKLland said:

@Charlie Spencer, do you think more new birders would see this where they post first? North American ID forum? Want to move it there? Just my thoughts. 

I swear I'm going to start consolidating these.  I think the best approach would be sorting them into four or five categories.  Each category would get a discussion of its own.  I'll create one more 'parent' topic with links to the others, then ask Aves. to pin that parent.

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36 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I swear I'm going to start consolidating these.  I think the best approach would be sorting them into four or five categories.  Each category would get a discussion of its own.  I'll create one more 'parent' topic with links to the others, then ask Aves. to pin that parent.

I agree; once it's complete we can post it elsewhere, but for now I think here is fine.

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Maybe common sense for most people, but if you are planning on birding early in the morning remember to eat something. Especially if you’re planning on doing some recording.

When I bird, I like to leave before sunrise and I just wake up and go. As a result, I have had many recordings ruined because my stomach wanted to join in the action. High pass filters don’t always help! One day I’ll learn to grab an apple before I go… one day. 

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6 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

EMPHASIZE THIS! There are far too many people these days that call themselves birders when they’re really just bird photographers.

I am curious, how do you define a birder? Are there minimum requirements, beyond an interest in birds, to qualify as a birder? How do you tell the difference between birders with a camera and the bird photographers, is there a characteristic or something specific that separates the two? I am genuinely curious because it seems like the term birder gets used regularly to separate birders from those people that are considered to be something less than birders. I always thought it was an inclusive term, now I wonder if it's an exclusive term.

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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

the difference between birders with a camera and the bird photographers

I of course can't speak for Tony but this made intuitive sense to me. I didn't really become a birder until this past year but I've been taking pictures of birds for ages. To me the difference is trying to understand what you're seeing, and to identify it all, vs focusing on the cool thing you do see.

Or maybe better, I do think there's a difference between enjoying looking at birds and (going off the deep end and) becoming a birder. I went out for a walk at lunch today and while out sometime stopped to watch me look at a V of cormorants through binoculars across about a 120 degree arc of sky, and he asked me if I was "looking at birds". His friend enjoys going to [hotspot] every Saturday morning, and he sometimes goes with, and then pointed out a hummingbird. He enjoys looking at birds; his friend is a birder. His friend and I would have called it a female Anna's, but wouldn't necessarily get any more enjoyment from it than he did.

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6 hours ago, lonestranger said:

How do you tell the difference between birders with a camera and the bird photographers,

 

4 hours ago, PaulK said:

To me the difference is trying to understand what you're seeing, and to identify it all, vs focusing on the cool thing you do see.

I'm with @PaulK.

My opinion: there are people who are interested more in the bird than any image they may capture, and there are people who are more focused (see what I did there?) on the quality of the image and have chosen birds as their subject.

The first group sees a bird first, then grabs for a camera to capture an image.  They may want it to document a rarity or lifer, and they'll keep even the poorest pictures of those birds.  They may want the shot to identify a bird later, because identifying the bird is the priority.  Stereotype: they reach for their binos first, and mostly carry point-and-shoots set on Auto.

The second group sets up for the photo first,  They're after the best quality image, and identifying the bird comes second.  They'll keep a great photo of a common bird and discard a poor one of a state record. Stereotype: they carry DSLRs or mirrorless exclusively, always shoot manual and know what every control does, and do a lot more post-processing.

There are people who are equally interested in both, but my limited experience gives me the impression most slide firmly to one side or the other of the scale.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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9 hours ago, lonestranger said:

how do you define a birder?

 

8 hours ago, PaulK said:

To me the difference is trying to understand what you're seeing, and to identify it all

 

3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

there are people who are interested more in the bird than any image they may capture, and there are people who are more focused (see what I did there?) on the quality of the image and have chosen birds as their subject

Yes to the above. There are eBirders that don't own binoculars. It's become a fairly big thing. Without a binocular, one is strongly hampered in studying and learning.

To me, a birdwatcher is someone that enjoys watching birds, while a birder is someone that enjoys learning birds.

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9 hours ago, lonestranger said:

I am curious, how do you define a birder? Are there minimum requirements, beyond an interest in birds, to qualify as a birder? How do you tell the difference between birders with a camera and the bird photographers, is there a characteristic or something specific that separates the two? I am genuinely curious because it seems like the term birder gets used regularly to separate birders from those people that are considered to be something less than birders. I always thought it was an inclusive term, now I wonder if it's an exclusive term.

Any word is both inclusive and exclusive. There has to be some meaning or there is no communication. Fruit, for example, is both inclusive and exclusive. We can talk about whether tomatoes are included in this category, but we also know that fish is not fruit. There are people who want to call tomatoes fruit and are using the term inclusively. Others think tomatoes should be called vegetables and use the word fruit to exclude in this case. (And this is without even going into the issue of technical vs popular use of words; botanists don't have any trouble deciding whether tomatoes are fruit, and neither do chefs. They just have a different answer.)

I think the problem comes when people have, infer, or imply negative connotations to the inclusion or exclusion of something in a term. Saying tomatoes are not fruit doesn't mean tomatoes are bad or inferior, but you won't expect to see them in your fruit salad. 

So people who are more interested in photographing birds than studying them have a different area of interest and involvement in the activity, and that is not the major focus in WhatBird. Photographers are of course welcome to ask for ID assistance (and we need to either offer help kindly and politely or stay out of those threads, whichever you prefer), but the activity we are looking to encourage and support is studying and learning about birds as well as observing and possibly photographing them. I also knit, crochet, garden, and cook; but I'm not looking for advice about any of those activities here. There are other websites for that. I might ask here about how to make a bird design on my sweater look better or what flowers to plant to attract hummingbirds, but those questions aren't directly about birding and as such are not a focus on WhatBird. 

While I love language and word usage, I am not interested in discussions of what a birder vs birdwatcher is and such things. If someone wants to observe and enjoy wild birds there's a place for that here. Not everyone will participate in the same way and with the same intensity, but we can still enjoy our common interest and support everyone. 

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5 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

There are people who are equally interested in both, but my limited experience gives me the impression most slide firmly to one side or the other of the scale.

This. I’m the kind of person who wants both. But, my first priority is is birding and identifying. So when I’m in the field, I will spot a bird, I’ll grab my binos to look at it, to identify it. Once I have done so, I will grab my camera and shoot that very same bird if it’s still there, to try and get the best possible shot. But there is an exception. If I spot a bird and it’s obvious which bird species it is, I’ll just grab the camera to try and get a great shot, if it’s obvious what species it is. Just my thoughts on this discussion. 

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1 hour ago, Aveschapines said:

Any word is both inclusive and exclusive. There has to be some meaning or there is no communication. Fruit, for example, is both inclusive and exclusive. We can talk about whether tomatoes are included in this category, but we also know that fish is not fruit. There are people who want to call tomatoes fruit and are using the term inclusively. Others think tomatoes should be called vegetables and use the word fruit to exclude in this case. (And this is without even going into the issue of technical vs popular use of words; botanists don't have any trouble deciding whether tomatoes are fruit, and neither do chefs. They just have a different answer.)

I think the problem comes when people have, infer, or imply negative connotations to the inclusion or exclusion of something in a term. Saying tomatoes are not fruit doesn't mean tomatoes are bad or inferior, but you won't expect to see them in your fruit salad. 

So people who are more interested in photographing birds than studying them have a different area of interest and involvement in the activity, and that is not the major focus in WhatBird. Photographers are of course welcome to ask for ID assistance (and we need to either offer help kindly and politely or stay out of those threads, whichever you prefer), but the activity we are looking to encourage and support is studying and learning about birds as well as observing and possibly photographing them. I also knit, crochet, garden, and cook; but I'm not looking for advice about any of those activities here. There are other websites for that. I might ask here about how to make a bird design on my sweater look better or what flowers to plant to attract hummingbirds, but those questions aren't directly about birding and as such are not a focus on WhatBird. 

While I love language and word usage, I am not interested in discussions of what a birder vs birdwatcher is and such things. If someone wants to observe and enjoy wild birds there's a place for that here. Not everyone will participate in the same way and with the same intensity, but we can still enjoy our common interest and support everyone. 

Didn’t see this post. Sorry, @Aveschapines

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So birders are ornithologists in training, not the guys enjoying birds through the lens of a camera. Got it.

I guess I am in the minority by agreeing with Kenn Kaufman. 

According to Kenn Kaufman, “Birding is something that we do for enjoyment; so if you enjoy it, you're a good birder. If you enjoy it a lot, you're a great birder.”

I will go on record as saying that I hate terms that divide or separate similarly minded people. The notion that one method of enjoying the birds is superior to another method of enjoying birds is ridiculous to me. Having a pair of binoculars and a field guide does not mean someone enjoys the birds or learns any more than someone who uses a camera and the internet to do their learning and get their enjoyment.

I'm sorry folks, I didn't mean to derail the original topic, but I can't help but feel a sense of superiority when the term birder is used to describe others as JUST something less than the birder making the reference. It comes across to me like, if you don't do it my way, you're not doing right and therefore you don't fit into the elitist group we call birders.

I don't mean to offend anyone that calls themselves a birder, I know it's a label that many wear proudly. I couldn't care less though if I offend those that pass judgement on OTHERS because of the method of their birding. If a bird photographer calls themself a birder, who has the right to say they're not a birder? A real birder? 

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to take my camera and go enjoy the birds for a while. Call it what you like. 🙂

 

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2 hours ago, Aveschapines said:

the activity we are looking to encourage and support is studying and learning about birds

That reads like a mission statement!!!!!  :classic_ohmy:  Noooooooooooo!!!!!  Next we'll have values and quality circles and before you know it, we'll be leveraging our synergies!!!

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, IKLland said:

... So when I’m in the field, I will spot a bird, I’ll grab my binos to look at it, to identify it. Once I have done so, I will grab my camera ...

I started to include something about birders grab their binos first and may not have a camera, photographers grab their camera first and may not have binos.  However, as Tony pointed out, there are people coming to birding lately who use cameras as their primary tools.  (I suspect some of them may have never used binos and may not know what they're missing.  Sheer speed of finding the bird, for one thing.)

As to the 'birder vs bird watcher' issue, I'm going to approach it like personal pronouns.  Tell me what you want to be called and I'll try to remember your preference.  If I call you by a term you don't prefer, please understand I do it out of decades of habit and not with any intent to offend.  I do use the phrases 'bird watcher' and 'bird watching' around 'civilians'; they usually aren't familiar with the words 'birder' or 'birding'.

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2 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

That reads like a mission statement!!!!!  :classic_ohmy:  Noooooooooooo!!!!!  Next we'll have values and quality circles and before you know it, we'll be leveraging our synergies!!!

I admit I can't tell for sure if you're joking... no circles or synergies. But there is a purpose to this site, and it can't be everything; that was my point. I did add observing and possibly photographing them... Nobody is obligated to learn bird names and ID techniques here, and they are not obligated to photograph them either. But the main purpose of the forums is not to support bird photography, it is to support observing, identifying, studying, and learning about them. Everyone gets to do as much or as little as they want of each of these activities. Maybe there are bird photography forums, where identification and study are of secondary if any importance?

I do agree that accusing people of not being "real" birders and such is not helpful. Words like "just" can be given an emotional charge that they may or may not have for the original person who used them. Just a photographer, not a birder; I'm just a gardener, I don't raise chickens. I guess when you care passionately about the activity it's easy to appear to be looking down on others or even to actually feel that way. But as far as I know there are no licensing programs for the right to call yourself a birder, and really everyone can define it the way they want. And as I've said before nobody has to participate in any discussions they are not interested in or are irritated by. As long as it's about wild birds we're all good. If it pushes your buttons move on.

I like having pictures of birds but it turns out I have almost zero interest in learning how to really use a camera. I personally cannot wrap my mind around people who don't count birds on their lists if they haven't photographed them; to me one thing has nothing to do with the other, unless a photo helps with an ID. None of this means that people who only list birds they've photographed are wrong or inferior to me. We're different, that's all. 

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8 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

 

As to the 'birder vs bird watcher' issue, I'm going to approach it like personal pronouns.  Tell me what you want to be called and I'll try to remember your preference.  If I call you by a term you don't prefer, please understand I do it out of decades of habit and not with any intent to offend.  I do use the phrases 'bird watcher' and 'bird watching' around 'civilians'; they usually aren't familiar with the words 'birder' or 'birding'.

It's even more fun using the terms in Spanish; "pájaro" (bird, or more precisely, passerine bird) is a popular slang word for a male sexual organ in many Spanish-speaking countries; so we tend to say "observadores de aves" (bird observers, using the more general term for bird even though in most people's minds that conjures up images of chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese) because "pajareros" (birders) suggests another activity entirely (that we don't discuss at all here at WhatBird LOL!)

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58 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

Maybe there are bird photography forums, where identification and study are of secondary if any importance?

Don't wander into DPreview.com.  I recommend them highly for photography help for all skill levels but they're shutterbugs first and foremost, with image quality being their primary goal.  Many of them don't understand how birders can value in a poor quality photo, even if it is an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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2 hours ago, IKLland said:

This. I’m the kind of person who wants both. But, my first priority is is birding and identifying. So when I’m in the field, I will spot a bird, I’ll grab my binos to look at it, to identify it. Once I have done so, I will grab my camera and shoot that very same bird if it’s still there, to try and get the best possible shot. But there is an exception. If I spot a bird and it’s obvious which bird species it is, I’ll just grab the camera to try and get a great shot, if it’s obvious what species it is. Just my thoughts on this discussion. 

Totally agree with this.

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1 hour ago, Aveschapines said:

I personally cannot wrap my mind around people who don't count birds on their lists if they haven't photographed them

Me neither. That reminds me of a story Kenn Kaufman told about a guy he knew who would only count adult male birds he had seen on his life list. One time they were up in the Aleutians where an extremely rare Asian Rosy-Finch had been reported. Only one problem. It was a female. What to do? 

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