A birder’s travels and travails can be tricky, sometimes even hazardous, because we navigate according to two powerful, but opposing stars: ENDEMIC and EXTRALIMITAL. We set forth to enjoy beloved indigenous birds only to find ourselves dashed against the rocks yet again in pursuit of some misplaced mega-rarity. Endemic species, the ones native to a given territory, sustain and encourage our interest, driving us to greater depths and breadths of exploration. But extralimital birds, those turned-around tourists far outside their expected range, seem to be the ones for whom we turn our heads with whiplash-inducing velocity. An American Robin taking a holiday in the UK or an Ivory Gull checking out real estate in the shadow of NYC… these celebrity birds appear to the outsider to be the center of the birding world’s orbit. Perhaps for a brief moment, each one is, but then the next wave of natives migrates in!
It seems sometimes that each extralimital encounter helps us to understand our endemic environment all the more. This is particularly true when the mega in question is a birder, not a bird. Take Jochen of Bell Tower Birding for example. I won’t call him a vagrant, as he had a presumably good reason to land in a snow-blasted section of North America. Anyway, humans tend to respond more negatively to that moniker than birds. He is, however, far outside his normal range and Michigan birding has rarely seemed as interesting as it does through this native German’s eyes. If you’re not familiar with Jochen’s new blog, he’s provided an excellent reason to get acquainted: a superb presentation of I and the Bird #47 that is all about the Bird. This one breaks new pseudo-scientific ground!
Are you all about the Bird? If you ever write about birds or birding on your blog, you should consider hitching your wagon to the I and the Bird star. Our blog carnival seeks to present this solar system’s best writing on the subject. If you feel that good about your work, send in a link and summary to me or our next host, Greg Laden (laden002 AT umn DOT edu) by May 1 for the May 3 edition.