3 Years Old

The blog turns 3 this month.

birthday-3 3 years old

 

I know the way to accomplish something and to make it succeed is to be in sync with your audience. Which I’m not to a degree. I could probably have a larger audience if I chased and reported on the latest rare bird. Or spent more time getting good photos instead of enjoying birds. But that isn’t me.

 

We had just moved to Indiana when I started this blog. I had originally planned to start while we lived in Illinois but the decision to move delayed the start.

The timing worked out well as the intent of the blog then and still is to demonstrate that you can find most regional birds in a small radius of your home. If you just look.

So I had the chance to explore a new area and report on it.

Along those lines I rarely see change. Though I do occasionally see people like Greg of gregandbirds looking for shorebirds at a local athletic fields. But what I mostly see are people still birding the major spots in their areas or travel to other “good” spots. Maybe they are birding lesser known areas but it doesn’t show up on listservs or eBird. For a perspective I think is spot on check out Ven Remsen’s comment about eBird Hotspots in response to this ABA blog post.

I still wonder how many birds are out there but since people don’t seem to want to bushwhack (explore) their local territories we’ll probably never know. Most times it appears birders all congregate at the same area.

In 3 years of repeatedly birding the Atterbury FWA – Johnson County Park area I have seen 196 species. Throw in the rare visit to Eagle Creek and the number is closer to 205. The first three years of birding the Starved Rock area of Illinois I saw 218 species. The numbers are probably comparable since I saw 10 species of gulls plus all the regular terns and herons at Starved Rock. It can be done.

I understand people want to see birds. They go where birds are being reported. But the point is that you can see the vast majority of those same birds in your immediate area without much travel. I’m talking within 10-15 miles of most homes. If you just look.

Take the occasional trip to a different habitat in your state, country, the world. They’re fun and add to your understanding of birds. But for regional birds that much travel isn’t needed.

Sooner than later I’m going to have to address what I see as the shortcomings of eBird, Facebook, ABA, and other birding media. I think they have done more good than bad but all have a self-interest in perpetuating the idea you must drive and travel to see that elusive rare bird or work on building up a huge life list. Which I think in the long run does more harm than good.

Do you know the closest spot to see find the different regional species?

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7 Responses to 3 Years Old

  1. Greg says:

    Happy Blogiversary! Sorry in advance for this inappropriately long comment!
    You are definitely on to something here, and I have often had thought processes as follows: I have a limited amount of time this week in which to go birding. I can, A.) go somewhere new and maybe only see a bunch of cardinals; or B.) I can go somewhere I know and have a better chance of seeing “better” birds and thus make my outing feel more worthwhile. As long as people are purely birding for leisure, this situation will exist, and I don’t see anything wrong with it, but I do see your point.
    In 2015 I started “green” birding on foot and bike to add some more sport to the hobby, and since then I have done much more exploration of new areas because the hotspots are often unreachable by human powered transportation within the couple of hours I have. In the last 21 months of birding this way, I have gotten 165 species, many of which were in places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone, like the Henslow’s Sparrow I dug out of a totally unbirded field while riding past it to go somewhere else. I have also turned my local park into an eBird hotspot, which has helped others go to it, too. Prior to this year, it was not on the eBird map. Now it is a hotspot with 99 species seen. This may not solve the problem of people only visiting hotspots, but at least they will go to more and different ones.
    I will say the one thing that has caused me to increase my awareness of new areas is the eBird profile feature. Before, I wouldn’t have bothered to look for birds on non-birding outings where all I could count on were cardinals and starlings, but now that I can turn counties on my own personal map brighter shades of orange and red by reporting more species, I am more inclined to be aware so that I can bump up my lists. So now when I am in a new place where I can add to this map, I am more attuned to what is around me and more likely to find something really “good” (although this hasn’t happened yet).
    Final thought to make a long comment even longer: I have really enjoyed reading your blog because your take is so unique. Please keep it up!

    • BobC says:

      Thanks for the long comment! So I’ll ask, how do you know there are only cardinals at a different spot unless you look? Because if you don’t no one else probably will. So good job on the Henslow’s.

      And as you can probably tell I would only do Green birding if a) I liked to bike b) I wouldn’t get mowed down on the narrow roads around here – either walking or bike riding. So keep up the green birding. For now I’ll try to limit my mileage.

      I’ll have more to post about on the eBird profile. I’m still up in the air about that one but I know it was a feature people wanted. And what the people want they usually get, good or bad…

      • Greg says:

        Good question, I don’t know for sure that there will just be cardinals, but if I go somewhere and it turns out that is correct, I will have severe buyer’s remorse and Fear Of Missing Out. I feel like that last effect causes people to only bird the regularly productive spots.

  2. Kim says:

    This is the first year that I have used eBird in earnest… It was partly in response to the Indiana Bicentennial bird challenge and partly due to my development in birding. In any case, my conclusion after this trial period is pretty much what you just wrote about. I don’t have much interest in rambling all over chasing a special bird. As you said, occasionally it is interesting and fun.

    Happy 3 Year Anniversary! Here’s to many more yesterday years of good birding!

    • BobC says:

      Thanks Kim. As I have wrote I did a couple chases my first years but realized that I would much rather see a bird in it’s native environment than one lost bird in the Midwest. It’s taken a few years but I’m in the position I can know take those trips on my own terms.

      How’s your Bicentennial challenge going?

  3. Terri Moore says:

    I absolutely love your blog. I see things in my area I probably wouldn’t see because when you see it I start looking for it, or I realize the strange Nuthatch I had on my feeder really was a red breasted. Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed.

    • BobC says:

      You’re welcome. And I know what you mean about start looking for it. If I don’t take the time weekly to look I forget what might be coming through. Like some of the sparrows right now.

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