February 27, 2007

Game theory

66 American coot
67 killdeer
68 wood duck
(total on this date in 2006: 60)

FEB. 27, EAGLE BLUFFS, sunny, 50—Nice spring days require you to go outside, so I grabbed my binoculars, PDA, iPod, and laser pointer and headed for the Missouri River.

Or so goes the new wave of 21st-century birders, as the Wall Street Journal reports. I won't express outrage, though I can't believe someone would carry a bird database on their PDA when fieldguides in book form are far superior. And I will say that laser pointers are lazy and gauche and I would betray my entire upbringing by using one.

But I've birded with people carrying iPods and don't object in any way except for the cautions pointed out in the article: to play sparingly and in the right circumstances, which I believe nearly all birders do. Rare-bird alert services? Not my thing, but I do check this website, which tells me pelicans are hanging out by the river now.

I think most birders bird for a combination of reasons. First, to be immersed in the outdoors and see wild things. That's why people walk in the woods, canoe and backpack, hunt and fish, climb and sail. No doubt it's a deep instinct.

Many birders also play a game with themselves to identify birds by sometimes split-second clues—puzzles of memory and learning combined with alertness and dexterity in the field. Some play the game hard. Me? I'm playing for 300.


Post a Comment

<< Home