Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because Neil Armstrong Took His Banana Away

Look at this.  A basket of baby butcher birds.  They will grow up to slaughter livestock and slow-moving humans by the thousands, but now they make the word "cute" an insulting understatement.  Photo by Wandering Abyssmaltross/LOINS Inc.

My apologies, BB&B junkies, for avoiding The Issues lately.  I really have not had any time to do Nothing lately, which is crucial for me to be able to operate on all cylinders.  My life is a constant cycle of looking at birds, entering data, and sleeping....which means it is, on the whole, unglamorous and mildly embarrassing.  That doesnt leave me with a whole lot of time for much else......but not today.  Together, we will confront one of the big prejudices in the birding community that I must put up with on an almost daily basis here in southeast Arizona (known locally as The Land Of The Walking Dead).....that's right, I'm talking about Ageism.

Bridled Titmice are known for their compulsive tendency to dust things.

Let's face it.  Birdwatching is not a young person's "sport".  If it was, this blog wouldn't exist, and I would be rolling in expensive champagne and loose women.  I should not have to explain this any further, so I won't.   I think there are more people under 30 getting in on the avian action now then there were ten years ago, but we are still a tiny minority.  As a result, young people (myself included) have always been greatly encouraged by their elder associates, if only for the sake of recruitment purposes.  This, of course, is a positive thing.

A male Scott's Oriole ponders which contraption will yield the most delicious crud.

Another victim of The Grape Jelly.

The flip side of this is is that you old people, 8.3759 times out of 10, assume we are terrible birders.  It's a fact.  We are young, and thus inexperienced....right?  This perception is not unfounded sometimes, but I've been in the game for fifteen (15) years.  I have been birding since before I tasted sweet, sweet alcohol, before I had heard of punk rock, before I had sex.  So it would be an understatement to say that this is getting old, folks.  Nothing is more aggravating than passive-aggressive condescension, and hey, I'll be the first one to admit that I can't help if I do it myself sometimes.  "An Iceland Gull you say?  Hmmm.....those are pretty rare 'round these parts......".  We've all pulled this stunt.  But I have never done it because of someone's age, gender, race, or anything else fundamental about them that they cannot change.

One of the side effects of sugar addiction is forming a strange bond with the local dealer, as these Black-chinned Hummingbirds can attest to.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and I'm grateful for it.  But to the rest of the birding community....will you quit it?  Thanks.  The benefit of the doubt can go along way, particularly if you want to encourage kids to step completely out of what is normal for them and dive deep into the moist and murky world of birdwatching.

Right.  I'm about to head out to Organ Pipe National Monument for the night, then its down to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, for the next few days. Sick.


  1. speaking of bananas, i lost one in the apartment about 6 weeks ago and I haven't found it. This can't be good.

  2. So true... even when older birders are unfailingly polite, it sometimes gets a little old to be the ONLY person under, say, fifty in a group. This past Christmas I found myself in the Phoenix area, so I eagerly signed up for a local CBC, and while it was fun I think it would have been MORE fun if I (a twenty-two year old woman) hadn't been grouped with four men in their fifties. Ah well.

  3. Rebecca - it's likely you were the ONLY person under 30 on the CBC. Those dudes were probably terrified of you! ;)

    Jill - I have you beat. I once somehow lost a shellfish in my car during a Mexico trip. The resulting stench was.....overwhelming, to say the least.