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chiccadee

Frustrating Experiences with Non-birders!

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These are all 99% true.

1. On a grassy field, with lots of Brewer's Blackbirds.

P1: What are those birds?

Me: Brewer's Blackbirdds.

P2: I think they're wrens.

P1: yeah, they're really large wrens.

Me: They're Brewer's Blackbirds.

P1: How do YOU know?!

P2: blue blackbirds? They're not even blue. Plus, they're wrens. See the tail and everything?

Me: I said BREWER's blackbirds.they're too big to be wrens and the shape isn't right and blah blah blah.

P2; Whatever, who cares?

P1: I've seen wrens before, OK? I know what they look like. And these are definitely wrens.

Me: *inner facepalm*

Guy: what are you looking at?

Me: some Western Meadowlarks.

Guy: Are they rare?

Me: No, they're common.

Guy: Then why are you looking at them?

Me: *ten minute explanation of why birds are interesting! even common ones! and blah blah blah, then turns around to see that guy isn't even listening*

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Not frustrating, but kind of funny.

 

I was down by the coast in a somewhat industrial area, and am scanning out in the distance with my bins looking at shorebirds.  Non-birder asks, "are you looking at the cranes?"  I say, "No, I am looking for birds", thinking he is talking about some cranes at the shipping docks in the distance.  Non-birder is walking away and remarks to his partner, "he doesn't even know what cranes are."  There is a Great Blue Heron in the field.

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A couple of years ago I was fishing at a reservoir about 40 miles east of Stockton, CA. There was a Great Egret standing at the end of the cove I was in. An SUV pulled up on the far side of the cove and a family of four got out. The father pointed toward the egret and hollered "Look everybody, a Whooping Crane". I had to chuckle at that, but now when I go on group trips and the conversation turns to rare bird sightings I always tell about my "lifer Whooping Crane".

 

And my brother-in-law (a non-birder), who lives in Fremont. CA told me on Xmas Eve, 2012 about the "Snowy Owl" that had been frequently perching on the utility pole in his backyard. I told him that there was no way he had a Snowy Owl in his backyard and he said he saw a "big white owl" and the closest images he could find online were of a Snowy Owl. I asked if he heard it call and he said yes. Then, pulling out my iPhone, I asked "Did it sound like this?" and played Barn Owl for him. He said "Yeah, that's it!" Then I told him that if he ever DID see a Snowy Owl in his backyard he damn well better call me and not wait until I come over for Xmas Eve dinner to tell me about it!

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These are all 99% true.

1. On a grassy field, with lots of Brewer's Blackbirds.

P1: What are those birds?

Me: Brewer's Blackbirdds.

P2: I think they're wrens.

P1: yeah, they're really large wrens.

Me: They're Brewer's Blackbirds.

P1: How do YOU know?!

P2: blue blackbirds? They're not even blue. Plus, they're wrens. See the tail and everything?

Me: I said BREWER's blackbirds.they're too big to be wrens and the shape isn't right and blah blah blah.

P2; Whatever, who cares?

P1: I've seen wrens before, OK? I know what they look like. And these are definitely wrens.

Me: *inner facepalm*

Guy: what are you looking at?

Me: some Western Meadowlarks.

Guy: Are they rare?

Me: No, they're common.

Guy: Then why are you looking at them?

Me: *ten minute explanation of why birds are interesting! even common ones! and blah blah blah, then turns around to see that guy isn't even listening*

A good reason to carry a Sibley

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My favorite is when people come by and see me photographing something and say "sorry" as they walk THROUGH my pic instead of around my back. I'll never get that.

 

The other one is when people yell, hey you looking for birds?  Of course I have been standing silently waiting for the bird to come out of the bush for a while... I once replied that I was pretty sure I had seen some kind of Bigfoot thing running through the bushes. They left me alone after that.

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None of these are as bad as when people get mad you or getting the cops called on you. I do quite a bit of auto birding of private land, and while I have not had the cops called yet, as far as I know, I have had people give me dirty looks and fingers quite a few times and have been cussed at a couple. Why? Because I was looking at their property from the road. I do not feeder watch from the road and do not look in people's yards, but they got mad about me looking at their fencerow with my binoculars. I tried explaining, showing my field guide and day's list. Didn't matter. One of these days the PoPo is gonna roll up on me, I know it. Every time a car pulls up while I am stopped along the road I get nervous. I hate feeling like I am doing something wrong when I am not.

 

Some well known birders here in Illinois had the cops pull them over thinking they were burglars because someone called and said they were casing a house with ski masks on. There were no ski masks being worn, the caller lied. They were given a hard time until it was sorted out.

 

I probably am giving the wrong impression of the rural locals here where I live. I have to say that for every bad experience with Non-birders I have had there have been several good ones. Almost every trip someone stops and asks if I am having car trouble and need help, and many times they get really interested in what I am seeing. Sometimes they say stupid stuff, or are pushy, and you have to turn the other cheek.

 

We are the ambassadors for the birds and our hobby. By being polite, helpful, and showing enthusiasm you may just be the spark that gets the next person to join our ranks. Or even if they do not want to take up birding maybe they have some tips on where to find a bird, or the next time there is a Snowy Owl or other rarity on their property they may not mind us birders coming to take a look because of how nice a guy/girl you were that time they met you. I ask that we all remember that when a non-birder meets you as a birder the impression you make is automatically applied to all birders.

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We are the ambassadors for the birds and our hobby. By being polite, helpful, and showing enthusiasm you may just be the spark that gets the next person to join our ranks. Or even if they do not want to take up birding maybe they have some tips on where to find a bird, or the next time there is a Snowy Owl or other rarity on their property they may not mind us birders coming to take a look because of how nice a guy/girl you were that time they met you. I ask that we all remember that when a non-birder meets you as a birder the impression you make is automatically applied to all birders.

 

I completely agree. I haven't had any bad experiences with non-birders, as far as I know, but I know it will happen, eventually. You're going to meet all kinds of people out there, so why dismiss or be rude to them?

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Just early this morning I was looking at some ducks (lifer scaups ;)) and two people walked by, looked at me, and started talking REALLY loudly. :mellow:

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None of these are as bad as when people get mad you or getting the cops called on you. I do quite a bit of auto birding of private land, and while I have not had the cops called yet, as far as I know, I have had people give me dirty looks and fingers quite a few times and have been cussed at a couple. Why? Because I was looking at their property from the road. I do not feeder watch from the road and do not look in people's yards, but they got mad about me looking at their fencerow with my binoculars. I tried explaining, showing my field guide and day's list. Didn't matter. One of these days the PoPo is gonna roll up on me, I know it. Every time a car pulls up while I am stopped along the road I get nervous. I hate feeling like I am doing something wrong when I am not.

 

Some well known birders here in Illinois had the cops pull them over thinking they were burglars because someone called and said they were casing a house with ski masks on. There were no ski masks being worn, the caller lied. They were given a hard time until it was sorted out.

 

I probably am giving the wrong impression of the rural locals here where I live. I have to say that for every bad experience with Non-birders I have had there have been several good ones. Almost every trip someone stops and asks if I am having car trouble and need help, and many times they get really interested in what I am seeing. Sometimes they say stupid stuff, or are pushy, and you have to turn the other cheek.

 

We are the ambassadors for the birds and our hobby. By being polite, helpful, and showing enthusiasm you may just be the spark that gets the next person to join our ranks. Or even if they do not want to take up birding maybe they have some tips on where to find a bird, or the next time there is a Snowy Owl or other rarity on their property they may not mind us birders coming to take a look because of how nice a guy/girl you were that time they met you. I ask that we all remember that when a non-birder meets you as a birder the impression you make is automatically applied to all birders.

Well said.

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1- on a field with soccer team

Me- I wonder what that bird was

Girl ( non birder)-it was a canary because it is yellow

Me - I don't think so

Girl-but it was yellow

Me- it is a tanger

Girl-?

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None of these are as bad as when people get mad you or getting the cops called on you. I do quite a bit of auto birding of private land, and while I have not had the cops called yet, as far as I know, I have had people give me dirty looks and fingers quite a few times and have been cussed at a couple. Why? Because I was looking at their property from the road. I do not feeder watch from the road and do not look in people's yards, but they got mad about me looking at their fencerow with my binoculars. I tried explaining, showing my field guide and day's list. Didn't matter. One of these days the PoPo is gonna roll up on me, I know it. Every time a car pulls up while I am stopped along the road I get nervous. I hate feeling like I am doing something wrong when I am not.

 

Some well known birders here in Illinois had the cops pull them over thinking they were burglars because someone called and said they were casing a house with ski masks on. There were no ski masks being worn, the caller lied. They were given a hard time until it was sorted out.

 

I probably am giving the wrong impression of the rural locals here where I live. I have to say that for every bad experience with Non-birders I have had there have been several good ones. Almost every trip someone stops and asks if I am having car trouble and need help, and many times they get really interested in what I am seeing. Sometimes they say stupid stuff, or are pushy, and you have to turn the other cheek.

 

We are the ambassadors for the birds and our hobby. By being polite, helpful, and showing enthusiasm you may just be the spark that gets the next person to join our ranks. Or even if they do not want to take up birding maybe they have some tips on where to find a bird, or the next time there is a Snowy Owl or other rarity on their property they may not mind us birders coming to take a look because of how nice a guy/girl you were that time they met you. I ask that we all remember that when a non-birder meets you as a birder the impression you make is automatically applied to all birders.

I had one lady in her min-van "interrogate" me about what I was doing at public river.  She tried to make it like she was concerned about my safety also since it was hunting season.  I will be doing a lot of birding from vehicle this year also in my County.  I am tempted to just contact the Sheriff's office ahead of time to tell them what I am doing.  One to hopefully avoid any situations like you had, and two better understand any laws regarding pulling off to the side of the road to take pics, or anything else I might run in to.  I felt weird yesterday pulled over in front of these peoples house because I swear I saw a Merlin-like bird hauling but in between the buildings on the property.  

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Just be careful when you pull over. One of the top birders in Illinois was hit by a car and killed a few years ago while stopped along the road(trying to find a link). I try not to stop anywhere where there are high speeds, or heavy traffic. Seeing a bird is just not worth it.

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None of these are as bad as when people get mad you or getting the cops called on you. 

 

Not a personal experience, but some friends of mine got kidnapped while birding in a rural area by group of farmers who were convinced that they were doing surveying for a mining project (huge hot-button issue here) because they had a telescope with them.  They were detained for several hours and threatened with violence.  No amount of showing bird books, logs, and photos convinced them. One of the members of the group carries a letter from the government stating that he is a professional birding guide, to help with access to public parks and such, and even that didn't help. The finally convinced the kidnappers to accompany them back to their cars where they showed more evidence that they were birdwatching and not surveying, and they were released. 

 

Even though I live near lots of open countryside, I don't wander around there birding, because of dangers of both the two-legged and four-legged type.

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Just be careful when you pull over. One of the top birders in Illinois was hit by a car and killed a few years ago while stopped along the road(trying to find a link). I try not to stop anywhere where there are high speeds, or heavy traffic. Seeing a bird is just not worth it.

Agreed.  It is nice that we have lots of back roads that have very little travel.  With this much snow now traffic is light, so one positive there.  My plan when it warms up is just put the top down on the Jeep and I can basically stay right in the vehicle the whole time.  Put my scope up in the back and have it peep out the top if I need it. :D

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LOL! My wife says their should be a "Frustrating experiences with birders as a non-birder" thread. She said like having an outdoor wedding, and having your husband to be looking over your shoulder during the vows saying "Wait, is that a so and so bird up there?" So not true!

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Not a personal experience, but some friends of mine got kidnapped while birding in a rural area by group of farmers who were convinced that they were doing surveying for a mining project (huge hot-button issue here) because they had a telescope with them.  They were detained for several hours and threatened with violence.  No amount of showing bird books, logs, and photos convinced them. One of the members of the group carries a letter from the government stating that he is a professional birding guide, to help with access to public parks and such, and even that didn't help. The finally convinced the kidnappers to accompany them back to their cars where they showed more evidence that they were birdwatching and not surveying, and they were released. 

 

Even though I live near lots of open countryside, I don't wander around there birding, because of dangers of both the two-legged and four-legged type.

 

That's insane! Do you know if those farmers were ever prosecuted or if it was in the news?

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That's insane! Do you know if those farmers were ever prosecuted or if it was in the news?

Not that I know of.  I write a newspaper column, and I did one on it.

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As an amateur photographer I was lying in a big country field trying to get a good angle on an old barn.  I was really concentrating, so when the officer asked me if I was all right I nearly had a heart attack!   Not much later, I also leaned in too closely to a wire fence, trying for another good angle and found out why the cows were staying away.  Ouch - another first, shocked by an electric fence.  Haven't be back out in that field since then.

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I once went birding at a local lake and a man stopped me.  "Little girl, do you know what you're doing?  Did you know there's snakes out here?  Have you ever done this before?" and other questions implying that since I'm a woman, I'm too dumb and incompetent to walk a hiking trail.

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This past summer my nonbirder friend announced he had a Bewicks wren in residence in his yard. The belly was pale, not buffy, so it couldn't be a carolina. We are in south jersey. This would be a reportable find, if true. Of course the bird was never around when  the birders were. after a few weeks of this My friend finally produced a nearly worthless cell phone picture through a screen of his wren. There was no convincing our friend that this was not a Bewicks, he "knew" what he had seen. No need to consult with the experts.

We then sent him a picture of a juvenile Carolina. Yes! That is it, that is my Bewicks wren, he declared. Mystery solved.

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