Updated: Oct 1, 2020
I have been birding (birdwatching as some old school types say) for a short period of time. In the time that I have been birding I have encountered many different types of birders in the birding community. There are so many terms that have been given to describe the types of birders, this can be confusing to the outsider, I feel that we can divide birders into two categories:
The first is the group that I call ‘Yoda Birders’. This group named after the character in Star Wars are the top of the pile when it comes to bird knowledge — they know the calls, the shapes, the colours, the behaviour, how many bones the bird has and a whole lot of information (some important and well some information just to impress those lesser mortal birders that are around them — makes them seem quite smart after all). They are like walking bird guides books — when they spot a bird they identify it, unlike a lesser mortal birder, in a calm and collected tone of voice. They are the supreme beings of birding.
The second group is what I call the ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire Birders’. This is the category that I happen to fall into. When it comes to bird identification, the knowledge of the group is severely limited. The way they identify birds goes a little like this:
Look at bird (with a confused face but still trying to look like you have it sorted to impress the Yoda’s in your midst)
Look in Bird Book Number 1
Look in Bird Book Number 2
Finally you phone a friend (this friend may be close to the ‘Yoda Birder’ but even if they are not no matter what they tell you, you believe them anyway because they know more than you)
Put it on your life list (then brag a whole lot to those who happen to be lower down on the bird list than you)
This is one of the joys of birding, whether you are a ‘Yoda Birder’, a ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire Birder’ or something in between, you join a community of people who are vastly different yet united by a common love and passion. I feel that this is one of the benefits of joining a Bird Club, it’s the opportunity for a “Who wants to be a Millionaire Birder’ like me to rub shoulders with a ‘Yoda Birder’ and draw from their wealth of knowledge. I love the fact that those with experience are normally more than happy to share it.
Just last week I had the opportunity to spend a morning with a local Bird Club (Birdlife Port Natal). The morning was wet and miserable, more suited to lying in bed with a cup of coffee and movies than going out looking for birds, yet as we sat in the Bird Hide (hiding from the birds and the rain) nature put on a show for us. Two LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) appeared and upon further investigation we saw them building a nest, the Yoda’s in our midst identified them as ‘Lesser Swamp Warblers’ and for the rest of the time we were treated to not only seeing them building a nest, but hearing them calling to each other over the reeds. Without the Yoda’s around, I would have simply written these off as LBJ’s, but through a group coming together, what could have possibly been missed, became a show the demonstrated the beauty of the natural world around us.
Birding can be done alone, but there is something exciting when the experience is shared with others!