This may seem a funny question, but have you ever described yourself as an neophyte field biologist? Field biology, as described by some authorities, “operates at the level of the organism, community, ecosystem or landscape. Field biologists use nature as a laboratory and combine the principles of biology, the physical sciences and mathematics to study the diversity and interactions of plants, animals and microorganisms in their natural environments.” That sounds like something I often do on the weekends, on a strictly amateur level of course.
Would you admit to engaging in off-hours ornithology? According to the Ornithological Council, ornithology “is one of the few sciences remaining where non-professionals regularly make significant contributions. The areas where non-professionals make their most important contributions are in the areas of distribution… by contributing sight records, and in the understanding of changes in bird populations – through annual bird counts around the world.” Sounds a lot like the Great Backyard Bird Count and Christmas Bird Count, among other citizen science initiatives. Once you can come to terms with your secret scientific background, you can even join the American Ornithologists’ Union along with a slew of similar organizations without a doctorate or even a bachelors degree in the discipline.
Face it… if you’re a birder, you spend a bit more time than the average bear contemplating advanced topics like speciation, behavioral ecology, avian physiology, and biogeography. Don’t be modest; lifelong learning is one of the keys to happiness, especially when you’re learning about birds. That’s why I think Nick Sly seems so cheerful. The blogger behind Biological Ramblings describes himself as Birder, Herper, Evolutionary Biologist, Naturalist, Student, which sounds like fun piled on top of fun to me. The fact that he operates out of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can’t hurt either! Today, though, his good mood fades in the face of blinding snow squalls as he presents a Winter Doldrums-themed 68th edition of I and the Bird.
Another host steeped in the heady satisfaction of ornithological inquiry is Grrlscientist of Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted). Few bloggers love carnivals as much as Grrscientist so consider this a most auspicious time to submit a link and summary of your best blog post regarding birding or wild birds to I and the Bird. Contributions should be sent to me or grrlscientist AT gmail DOT com by February 19 for the edition on the 21st. Also note that we need hosts to carry IATB through spring…