Say “Hello”, Please

Probably my biggest problem with birding is that birders do not say “hello”.  OK, that is not my biggest problem, the Eastern Time Zone is, and Warblers are probably number two.  But birders not saying hello has to be right up there somewhere.

A Baltimore Oriole yelling “hello” to a friend.

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I encountered it again in Texas last week.  It is the slow time of the year.  On most days I was the only person birding the site.  And these are larger state parks.  On two occasions I came across other birders that did not say hello even after I did.  OK, one did nod.  It was fairly obvious that I was birding – binocs, camera, man purse with a notebook sticking out.  But I wasn’t dressed in the “official” birding uniform like they were.  They had on khaki hat, shirt, shorts, and boots.  I had on my tourist clothes – floppy hat, shirt, jeans, and in this case tennis shoes.  So they probably thought I was some crazy tourist that birded once a year.  Too bad because I could have put them on some decent birds, in one case I had just observed a Green Kingfisher buried deep in a large bush.

But this doesn’t just happen in Texas.  I have seen it in the Midwest ever since I started birding.  I used to think it was because people were intimidated that the person they were saying hello to would be a “better” birder.  Then after a while I noticed the “better” birders wouldn’t say hello either.  I thought they didn’t want to mingle with us lesser mortals. But  I don’t think either is correct.  I think it is our society.

A Western Meadowlark calling “hey” to a buddy.

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When I used to run, once a week I would run with a guy who would say hello to everyone.  We would be out a couple of hours on a long trail and we would say hello to all runners, walkers, bikers.  Most of them looked at us like we were nuts.  A few would say hello back but give us a strange look.  It didn’t change over the years.

I now work in a facility that has 600+ people.  The first thing I noticed when I transferred here last year is that no one says hello or even gives a nod.  What’s up with that?

If my mother was alive she would have been 99 last Sunday.  She was from a rural area of Kentucky and a different time.  She always said the world changed in the 1960’s when television became popular.  And in her opinion it didn’t change for the better. People started to stay inside instead of being outside and chatting with neighbors.  And I think the computer – internet world has continued that trend.  As I have heard several times, “You might communicate with a person on the other side of the world, but when was the last time you said hello to your neighbor?”

A Yellow Warbler calling over to the neighbors.

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So the next time you are out birding and someone says “hello”, please at least say “hello” back.  Or take the initiative yourself. There are just too few birders not to do at least that much.

7 Replies to “Say “Hello”, Please”

  1. I agree. Birders should be friendly on the field and that way you’ll be able to share info and also meet new folks that sometimes you’ll know only from posts they make to a listserve. Can I put a link to this on Chicago Audubon Facebook page?

    Appreciate this entry and also enjoyed today’s entry too. Especially bobwhite photos. Thx Alan

    1. Hi Alan. No problem linking the page. I guess I first noticed this problem at Hennepin-Hopper when I first started birding. (I spent most of my life in Central Illinois) A couple of other birders up there with scopes. They scanned the lake for 30 minutes without saying a word. I was new and wasn’t sure of the protocol, so I didn’t say much either. They left without a word to me. I found it odd and confusing. So since then I try to speak up unless I am just waiting to see if the other person will speak. Like in Texas.

      The point about meeting people you read on list-serves is great. I don’t know how many times that has happened when I initiated a conservation in the field.

      And thanks for the compliment on the bobwhites. I am no where near a good photographer, birding is still far and away the main goal. But my friend Mike says if you are going to blog you need photos! So I try.


  2. I think it’s a shame that it has become unusual for someone to say hello or even have a small conversation, especially at my age. I think I’ve encountered this a couple times when I’ve been out birding. Although this isn’t a big issue for me, I like being able to talk with someone and point out what I’ve seen and hear about their sightings for the day.

    1. Good to hear from you again Andy. I hope the birding is going well this year. I’m glad to hear from someone a “few” years younger than me and it is a problem in that generation also. And you are right, it probably isn’t a big deal, but I still don’t like to see the eroding of common courtesy. Guess I am old fashion.

      And you are right. How many extra birds have I got to see by just striking up a conversation with another birder?


      1. I think this year has been going pretty well for me. I’ve not only added 35 lifers and chased after some rarities, but I’ve improved on my identification skills by observing behavior and learning songs.

        I think the best solution is to lead by example. You may not convince everyone, but hopefully some will pass it on.

  3. My mother would also be in her 90s now and from rural
    Ky. She said people stopped talking to their neighbors when homes starting having air conditioning because then you stayed inside where it was cool in the summer instead being outside in the evenings.

    1. Thanks for the reply. My daughter has heard this a 1000 times, but we didn’t get air conditioning until the late 70’s. Which was tough a lot of nights in Central Illinois. And you are right. Up to the point we got AC my parents used to sit on the front porch of the house talking to neighbors or just to each other almost every summer night. My wife and I still sit outside as long as the mosquitoes don’t carry us away. Not as many neighbors walking by though…


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