Friday, June 3, 2011

Our Civil Liberties Will Die By Morning's Light

Red-legged Kittiwake.

"LBB". "LBJ". These are specieist terms. Yup. That's even worse than racism you know...being against an entire species.

Let me explain, nonbirders.There's a lot of birds out there. A lot. Some of them are pretty distinct. Take my friend the Red-legged Kittiwake. It looks like your basic gull....but wait. What are those things dangling off of it? Oh, it seems to have red legs. It looks like its been wading in a pool of blood. That's pretty distinct.

No. An LBJ (Little Brown Job) or LBB (Little Brown Bird) is something else. The definition is simple: a small brown bird. For example, take the Common Rose-Finch, below.

Common Rosefinch. It's rare. When your first child is being born in the hospital, this is the bird you would go see instead.

As you can see, its brown. It's a bird. I don't know about a job. But there you have it. It's brown. It's...indistinct. To the undiscerning eye (that's you, nonbirder), it looks like literally hundreds of other bird species out there. Does that make it any less awesome? No, you ass.

People who know a little bit about birds, but not a lot, will use these hurtful terms. No, scratch that....HATEFUL terms.

Parakeet Auklet. I'm still bummed I didn't get any very impressive pictures of them. They are cooler birds than you know (and one of the worst to extract from mist-nets).

In my opinion, the original reason these terms came about was relatively innocent and humble. People just couldn't hang with these birds. The lacked the skills to differentiate, for example, female Common Rosefinches and female House Finches. They just couldn't do it. It's not that they disliked them or viewed them with distaste, they just had no idea what to do. From 1997 to 2007 I worked for LBJ Enterprises, whom were usually filled with people who would have a heart attack if they were lucky enough to see a female Common Rosefinch on American soil. Thats Little Brown Jobs, not Lindon Banes Johnson.

Flash forward to 2011.

This Lapland Longspur is just checking on some stuff.

"LBB" and "LBJ" are slurs known by all who associate themselves with wildlife, birds, biology or what have you. Budding birdwatchers still use them in the same context as they belong in. But now, its become a derogatory term for everybody else. Its like, "oh, these look the same, so they don't matter". What the fuck? I mean that's a cute attitude and everything, but all it means is that your bird skills are weak and you're too lazy to do anything about it. Why are people racist? Because they are afraid. Why are people speciesist? Same reason.

The path to camp.

People are afraid to try to identify these birds. It's sad.

But let me tell you kids. It's ok. Can't tell a Chipping Sparrow from a Vesper Sparrow? Who cares? Doesn't mean you shouldn't try. The only people who can are some of the world's biggest nerds anyways. You have nothing to lose.

There is not much worse in the world than the willfully ignorant. You people, who use these terrible words, fit this description to a tee.

Thick-billed Murres are not exactly agile, but are gifted enough fliers to deal with raising families on near-vertical cliffs. This is what murre air-brakes look like.

Now that we have that out of the way, I will say that I am happy that there is more out there than those....wonderful birds I've been speaking of. Variety is the spice of life right? So instead of posting nothing but sparrows, pipits and flycatchers, I went with a suite of birds from Buldir Island.

A year ago I was on Buldir, in the western Aleutians, working absurd hours and scaring the crap out of myself trying to avoid falling off cliffs. But the birds were just so good, and the possibilities were endless in terms of weird migrants that could show up.

Horned Puffin.

2011 only turned out to be a so-so year in terms of vagrants, but I do love seabirds. When you can watch tens of thousands of auklets swirling around from the deck of your cabin you forget about bitching about that Eyebrowed Thrush that never showed up.

Right. The weekend appears to be here. I'm not sure how much I'll be working, but if the weather is right (un-frakking-likely) I'll be sure to get out and bird if I can. Someone finally found some Baird's Sparrows, which is the epitome of LBBs and one of the reasons I've come to North Dakota at all. But the plovers come first!

Why does my blog have Halloween colors? Huh.

Tufted Puffin.

I pooped a lot in here last year. I always felt self-conscious because I could hear Song Sparrows and Grey-crowned Rosy-Finches on the roof.


  1. Couple things. First of all, when my first child is being born I will be screaming "WTF I thought I aborted YOU", not running off to see a bird. Second of all, it's hard to be sold on little brown birds when looking at photos of freakin amazing puffins and shit. Anyways. Good stuff.

  2. I hear you bro. (Uh oh. Is that racist? genderist?) How about "I hear you undescribed person of no particular gender"?

    I get frustrated when EIRs say, we checked the data base and no listed species were found! What about the unlisted species and LBJs? and the grubs and bugs?

  3. Jen. Youre funny. I like where youre coming from. Reed. People hate birds, they prefer malls. That goes for all genders.