Birders, it is time we banded together. For too long the scourge of spring migration, the blight of Big Days, the bane of birding, has afflicted us. Mid-May is the best time of year for birding.* Sadly, the greeting card industry, flower shop proprietors, and chocolate makers have conspired to deny us half of the best weekend of the year for birding. Yes, birders, it is time that we moved Mothers Day.
*At least in the eastern half of the United States and, generally speaking, in the northern 2/3 of the northern hemisphere.
I know, I know, taking on such a conglomeration of corporate cabals, to say nothing of the mother lobby, will be difficult. But I for one can’t continue on this way. What caused me to snap? Well, this past weekend featured Mothers Day on Sunday. Here in New York Saturday was highlighted by a deluge of rain and wind as a nor’easter blasted the Big Apple. So weather washed out half the weekend’s birding and a holiday knocked out the other half. How is a birder to survive such a one-two punch during the best birding weekend of the year? I think the Geneva Conventions forbid such cruel and unusual punishment.
Now, before I go further, I would like to state that I love mothers. My mother, Jill, is a marvelous woman who would do anything for her kids. Daisy, the mother of my only child, is also beyond reproach. My mother-in-law, sister, and sisters-in-law are additional marvelous mothers and I don’t wish to cause any of them any offense. My female colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who have children are all excellent people.
But it is fair to neither the birders who wish to honor mothers nor to mothers who would be celebrated by birders to have this conflict. What if a rarity shows up? Selfless as most mothers are they just might let the birders in their life go on a twitch.* And this isn’t fair to mothers who should have the day all to themselves. Nor is it fair to the birder who might end up with great looks at a lifer but will be wracked by guilt for abandoning a mother on her special day.
*Or, you might end up in a situation like mine where you ask a test question late on Mothers Day morning, “Daisy, how do you feel about me going birding the rest of the day?” and you get as a response, “I will kill you.” (And, yes, this did actually happen and I believe her.)
How can we make this happen? How can we move Mothers Day to, say, mid-July? There is powerful force that can be brought to bear on this situation and it is within the ranks of us birders. Yes, I speak of mother-birders. We need mothers who are also birders to be the driving force behind this shifting of holidays. It will take great sacrifice. After all, mothers get what they want on Mothers Day which is why 95% of birds seen on Mothers Day are seen by women who have given birth and are also birders.* But please, mother-birders, I beg you, think of the rest of us, doomed to eating brunch and buying flowers when we could be out in nature enjoying wood-warblers, tanagers, and vireos. You can be the impetus behind this revolutionary change and free us birders from the shackles of mid-May Mothers Day forever.
*I totally made this statistic up, of course.
There are some of you who will think me foolish for focusing on what seems like a minor issue. What about conservation? What about having a total nutter as President of the United States? What about global warming? Yes, all of those problems must be tackled too. But until I can go birding for the entire weekend in mid-May I just don’t see myself having the mental fortitude to handle those issues. So join with me and together we can move Mothers Day!