Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ten Tips For Enduring The CBC With Felonious Jive

Have you ever had the honor of birding with Felonious Jive, The Great Ornithologist? I bird with him on the regular. Some say he's mellow...others, twice mellowed. He will chase rarities with reckless abandon and go after target birds like a bloodhound, but you love him all the more for it. He wants to see birds, after all, so who cares if someone else found them first? That's why he is The Great Ornithologist...he sees all the birds. Birders think they know birding, but after birding with Felonious...things may never be the same.

How that turns out depends on the time of year. Unlike myself, Felonious Jive is truly dedicated to Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). I'm usually travelling during CBC season and would much rather do that than get stuck with some bullshit count sector, but Felonious Jive, The Great Ornithologist, is all about CBCs. He lives them. He breathes them. And considering the caliber of birding he brings to the table, he can make them or break them simply by deciding to show up or not. I've done several CBCs with Felonious now, since he is my partner here at BB&B. He runs the show during these bizarre events...I am merely a bystander. For anyone "lucky" enough to spend a CBC with Felonious, here are ten tips to help deal with a truly great ornithologist.

1. Felonious Jive is almost always drinking during Christmas Counts. It can seem disgusting at first. Sure the guy drinks a lot, but the way he puts away drinks during a CBC, you would think it was the Super Bowl or something. This is normal. Do not be alarmed. It does not impede his ability to find birds or identify them correctly. He may ask you to drive, however.

2. If he is not drinking, Felonious is probably on something else. Do not be surprised. He's probably popping pills. Once he was drinking all day and then took several pills of unknown origin. He said he needed them because we were owling.

3. If he offers you pills, be sure to know what he is giving you. If you're not familiar, he'll invariably tell you something like, "It's mellow. Everything is fine. Just take the damn thing. Oh a sapsucker just flew across the trail".

4. Expect to walk hella. Like 50 miles. Despite the fact that he doesn't really seem to be in any kind of admirable physical condition, he will be medicating and impervious to any discomfort beyond having to identify distant gulls or wishing that Empidonax from earlier in the day gave better looks. If you think it odd that Felonious will cover 50 miles within a day, on foot, within a count circle that has a 7 mile radius, you are right to think so.

5. Expect to spend 4 hours seawatching. Making time for staying in one place for so long on top of walking so many damn miles is seemingly impossible, but that is what happens.

6. Prepare for bad conversation. He may present many theories to you as if they are fact, but they are typically based on a poor grasp of science and a strong desire for attention. It's an ugly combination. He's usually not like this, but if he starts a CBC already hungover, then watch out.

7. If you are lucky enough to avoid his awful hangover blather, he will primarily communicate with you using quotes from Star Wars movies (Episodes IV, V, VI). If you do not like Star Wars, then heaven help you.

8. If you have a Stormtrooper suit, a Darth Vader suit, or even a Jedi robe, wear it. You will both find this very humorous.

9. Get stoked on cocaine. If Felonious isn't on pills, inevitably he ends up doing bumps off the top of his spotting scope at some point in the afternoon. Doing cocaine by oneself is a notoriously lonely activity, so he's going to insist on sharing. The rest of the day really flies by once he gets into that stuff.

10. Do not expect to savor any of this. Doing a Christmas Bird Count with Felonious Jive, The Great Ornithologist, is an emotionally trying and physically hellish experience that will likely leave you wanting to avoid him for the next year or so.

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