Bird Binoculars-Bird Watching Guides and a long drive

Birders – Birding Guides and a Long Driving Trip
By Donna Bessken

Why am I a birder? What is so special about my birding guides? What actually happens on those long drives to meetings? A short true story may shed some light on those issues. Often I am surprised when driving along at 65 miles an hour and I see a red tail hawk overhead and someone says “Oh look at the buzzard.”

I almost never know whether to let them continue to call it a buzzard or pull out my birding guide and show them the difference between hawks and vultures.

Recently while traveling with several non-birders but otherwise very nice people. One sweet lady remarked, “You seem to see a lot more birds than I do. That seemed like an invitation to move into a birding conversation, She had an entirely urban background and zero interest in outdoor pursuits.

Drawing on her urban knowledge, I suggested a change in perspective. Look at :

    • The treetops as if they were the horizon or the rooftops of the buildings,
    • The fields as parks or vacant lots
    • Consider the occasional row or grove of trees as intersections with traffic lights.

Now, I said, “Look for birds at the tops of the old trees in the middle of the vacant lots. Don’t worry about what they are, just give yourself a chance to find a few and feel good about it.”

We spent another couple of hours on the road and when I saw a hawk I directed her vision to the field and sometimes she saw it too. She was elated. After a while she began to describe the birds she saw. It seemed like a whole new world opened up to her.

And I knew it had. I smiled and handed my birding guide to her when we reached our destination and suggested browsing through it during the breaks at out meeting. She did and enjoyed discovering the diversity of birds and the field of ornithology.

Along the dark drive on the way home we did not see birds. She commented on how she could now see shadows and shapes in the trees and fields. She learned to look on the edges where fields and forested areas converge, as if they were intersections with lots of people piled up at a stoplight waiting for it to change before they moved. True, and the life or death of some small mammal would hinge on whether a bird of prey noticed when it moved.

Later when she returned to the city she recalled the birds and their behavior and began to notice more different types of birds than she had ever seen. We emailed.

I was glad I went on that trip. I learned a new way to communicate about birding without bird binoculars, a way to connect urbanites with the open fields of the countryside. And we did all of that without using our bird binoculars. That is part of why I am a birder.


Donna Paul Bessken is an agent of change, an affiliate marketer and free-lance writer. During her life as a field naturalist and educator, she fell in love with bird-watching and caring for the environment.

Article Source: Bird Watching Guides


10 Responses to Bird Binoculars-Bird Watching Guides and a long drive

  1. That was a great article It’s true that most people don’t recognize a lot of nature in the city, even when it’s right under their noses. It’s nice that your friend has someone like you to open her eyes!! Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Lola for your kind words. It is one step at a time. When we learn to respect each other’s differences and to speak the languages they understand, we all benefit. Sharing what we know and care about is a trait that humans can enjoy. The best way to learn is the old “Stop. Look. Listen.” You may enjoy my Birding ECourse too. http://birdsight.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

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