“Have you seen any good birds?”
It’s the expected question when you meet another birder on the trail. We’ve all heard it, and probably asked it ourselves.
The first time I heard this I was a bit confused. What’s a “good” bird? Does that mean there are bad birds? Since that time I’ve learned that the question actually means, “Have you seen any unusual birds?” This makes a lot more sense. We all want to catch the rarity. But if seeing a rare bird is the only reason to go birding, we’d get bored pretty quickly.
I’ve now been birding long enough now to know that most trips to the same locations at the same time of year will produce the same familiar birds over and over again. Yet, we continue to go birding. Why?
There are probably plenty of reasons, as varied as we birders are, but a few come to mind:
- Getting outside, and love having an excuse to go for a walk in a natural setting.
- Watching birds, even very familiar birds, go about their daily routine of feeding, courting, and the like.
- Enjoying one another’s company, sharing a common interest.
- Learning another skill, such as birding by ear, or bird photography, or sketching.
- Adding to a year list, or a county list, or whatever other list we can dream up.
- Acting as tour guide for a visiting birder.
- Helping conservation efforts by counting birds, noting breeding locations, or monitoring habitat.
- Sharing our birding skills with new birders.
None of these reasons to go birding have anything to do with “good birds” or “trash birds.” Sure, you never know when that elusive lifer will be lurking around the next bend in the trail. But to an enthusiastic birder, they’re all good birds!
Why do you like to go birding?