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.
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.
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.
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.