Congresha of Earth House Hold has tagged us with his Birding Meme. While we try to refrain from excessive meme-blogging, this one is well within our collective wheelhouse. Let’s have at it!
1. What is the coolest bird you have seen from your home?
Mike – Most definitely the occasional Bald Eagle visiting NYC from its wintering grounds along the Hudson River. Other than that, my Bronx backyard bird list consists mostly of prosaic raptors, waterfowl, and urban species.
Corey – Sadly, my apartment complex is kind of lacking in the cool birds department. But we do have a rooster that lives in our parking lot so I think I’ll have to go with him.
Charlie – Our garden is pretty much a bird-free zone too, but I looked out of the bathroom window a year or so ago and – midstream as it were – a Peregrine rocketed past. By the time I’d “tidied myself up” it was long gone…
2. If you compose lists of bird species seen, what is your favorite list and why?
Mike – I appreciate our Core Team life list most because it’s the chronicle of birds Sara and I have seen together. However, credit goes to whichever year list I’m currently populating for providing the motivation to seek out species I’ve already spotted before.
Corey – Currently my New York State Big Year list is a favorite. But it will drop quickly in my estimation if I fail to reach 300 by December 31.
Charlie – In 1991 I tried a “Big Year” counting everything I saw downroute in a ‘normal’ year with British Airways (I’m cabin crew in real life). I saw 1975 species but it was exhausting. I slept about three hours a month and vowed never to keep a list again!
3. What sparked your interest in birds?
Mike – Frustration at not being able to put the name, as it were, to the face when out hiking. Little did we know that birding would completely subsume hiking as my favorite outdoor activity!
Corey – A Green Heron. What is that bird? I have to find out…and it’s been a slow slide to insanity ever since…
Charlie – So many things and so many people: but I remember seeing a male Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella near my school when I was about eight and just being stopped in my tracks it was so unexpected and so beautiful.
4. If you could only bird in one place for the rest of your life where would it be and why?
Mike – Although there’s not a chance in the world of me limiting my birding to a single city, country, or even continent, were such a cruel prohibition to arise, there are places where I could be happy. Panama, for example, has a list of approximately 971 species. Most of my favorite birds like wood warblers are represented in abundance, while entirely new families also appear. Panama is not only comparatively close to New York, it has just about all its birds and then about 500 more!
Corey – It would have to be someplace I have never been so I could have the challenge of learning lots of new birds. And it would have to have lots of birds. Maybe somewhere along the east coast of Mexico?
Charlie – In Korea with my brother Nial. I don’t especially like the place, but Nial is a birding genius and so incredibly committed to conservation and birds he would inspire me every day.
5. Do you have a jinx bird? What is it and why is it jinxed?
Mike – I’ve got plenty, but the worst offender, now that I’ve finally found Ruffed Grouse, has to be American Woodcock. Even though I almost stepped on one, I still haven’t gotten a decent look at this cryptic shorebird.
Corey – Well, I think I have two. Tennessee Warblers refuse to show themselves to me. And all of the western thrashers. I couldn’t even find a California Thrasher in southern California!
Charlie – Steller’s Eider. Incredibly rare in the UK, a female hung around northern Scotland for years. A mate and I were planning to see it in the late 1980s and diverted en-route to see a Hoopoe instead. I’ve seen literally hundreds of Hoopoes since, but never been close to a Steller’s Eider…
6. Who is your favorite birder? and why?
Mike – My favorite birders are definitely the folks on this page, the friends and family who have helped me experience the best aspects of birding. I’m happy to say that this lineup keeps growing.
Corey – Whoever has found the most recent New York State rarity that I haven’t seen this year and reports it promptly so I can chase it.
Charlie – Sorry to be repetitive, but my brother Nial by a long way. His depth of understanding and his passion has to be witnessed to be believed.
7. Do you tell non-birders you are a birder? What do they say to you when they find out?
Mike – Usually, they start describing Red-winged Blackbirds or similar striking, though common birds. Then they silently decide to buy me bird-related books and gear at every special occasion.
Corey – Yes. I’m a birding evangelist. And they better like the idea of birding or I hit them with my binoculars. And it seems that most folks are okay with birding, especially after they see what a pair of binoculars can do to a person who makes the mistake of disparaging my hobby.
Charlie – Er, sometimes (there’s only so often I can stand being asked if I know Bill Oddie). These days though the reaction is far more positive than it used to be thankfully, and most non-birders will seize the opportunity to tell you about something they’ve seen regularly visiting their garden and didn’t recognise (who knows, one day it might be a Steller’s Eider – but I’m not keeping my fingers crossed!)