Bird’s the Word

Bird’s the Word

Well, here we go! You are now entering the mind of a Bird Nerd. Many may think this title would be used in a negative way to poke fun at someone who enjoys observing birds and learning about bird behavior, however, I wear this title as a badge of honor.

Through this blog, I am excited to share with you my passion for birds. I will share birding stories that I experienced, and those of fellow birders. I will also try and advocate for anyone and everyone (especially kiddos!) to fall in love with birds as I have. I will explain why birding is so important for not only us humans, but especially for the birds.

However, in this first blogpost, I’d like to introduce you to the world of birding/birdwatching with a brief overview of the community and some important lingo that I will be using from here on out!

Birders vs. Birdwatchers – What’s the difference?

Before we go over some important terminology, let’s establish an important distinction… Birders vs. Birdwatchers. This is a concept I had no idea about when I first got interested in birds. Using the wrong term for an individual can be taken as an insult by some, so this was an important thing I learned pretty early on.

Birdwatchers

  • These folks tend to linger and contemplate the birds they come across, while let the scene unfold in front of them with no specific agenda.
  • Usually content with whatever gear they have and do not need the latest and greatest binoculars, cameras, and guides.

Birders

  • These individuals are very actively seeking out birds and will think nothing of driving several hours at the news of a specific bird being spotted.
  • Numbers matter much more to a birder than a birdwatcher. Birders often keep lists and the most dedicated list taking birders, called “listers”, will record all their sightings and section their lists out by year, season, country, state, county, etc.
  • Some birders are even competitive and the ultimate bird obsessed birders will take part in a cross country competition called the “Big Year” where participants try to hold the highest list of bird species seen by the end of the year. The American Birding association Big Year record is a whopping 839 species!


I find it tough to stand squarely on one side. I would say I lean more towards calling myself a Birder, but I am not nearly as hardcore as most. I do keep a yearly list of species I see, but that is more for me than anything else.

The birdwatcher in me appreciates taking in bird behavior as it unfolds in front of me, and just seeing where a day of birding takes me; with no set agenda. Sure, I have days where I am looking for a specific species, but I take my time and enjoy the beauty of nature while still snapping photos and writing down a list of observed species as I go.

Alright, now that we’ve gone over Birders vs. Birdwatchers, here comes the birdy lingo!

Birdy Jargon

Mega: A very rare bird that often attracts birders from across the country or even from other countries!

LBJ: This term stands fro Little Brown Job and this is used while identifying a bird that falls into the category of small, brown, and drab which many songbirds are (especially sparrows)! Oftentimes birders will refer to female or immature birds as LBJ’s as they are very tough to identify accurately.

Photo credit to Douglas-Hart Nature Center

Lifer: Now this is an important term that will definitely come up in future installments of the Bird Blog. A lifer is a personal first-ever sighting for a birder, and thus warrants addition of that species name to their personal “life list”.

Vagrant: A bird that strays outside of its normal range/migration route. This is an exciting sighting for birders!

Twitcher: A really hard-core birder that will go to great lengths to add a bird to their life list!

Spark bird: A species that triggers a birders lifelong passion for birds!

Nemesis Bird: A bird that constantly eludes a birder despite great efforts.

IBA: Important Birding Area (Location that is considered important in regards to protection of wild bird populations)

Pish/Pishing: A sound a birder makes to try and draw songbirds out for a better look.

Bins: short for Binoculars

BOP: Bird of Prey

Usual suspects: Birds you expect to see in an area each time you go birding there

There are many more terms I could throw at you, but I have shared the terms I feel are most important to help newcomers to this hobby understand us birders.

For anyone who is looking for more insight into birders, here is a fun video poking fun at different birder stereotypes.

I look forward to sharing more birdy knowledge with you for my next blog post. In the meantime, try and tune your senses into the birds around you; nature in general for that matter. You’ll never know what you can see/hear/smell until you really open yourself up to explore! Besides, what better time than now?

#birder #birdwatcher #Birdnerd

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