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Those of us who are birdwatchers have probably occasionally found ourselves trying to explain the appeal of our hobby to non-birdwatchers, and if you've managed to do it successfully, I salute you.

The conversation for me always seems to start at "So, you just really like birds?"

"Err..." I always say. "Not exactly..."

This is awkward because I don't actually really like birds--I mean, I really like dogs, I quite like cats, I dearly love the idea of wombats (even if I wouldn't want to share the house with one) but I don't have that kind of burning affection for birdkind. I would never own a bird. They are beautiful creatures, I can stare at a scarlet macaw or a peach-faced lovebird for hours, but give me a dog any day. There are lots of pets that I don't have the lifestyle to accommodate, but while I feel a pang for my inability to keep a Rottweiler happy, I feel no such pangs over the fact I can't have a parrot. I am a mammal-ist.

And while I think birds are neat, and I wish them the best of their tiny little avian lives, birdwatching is not motivated by the same sort of affection that governs many of our interactions with animals. I love birds, but it's a broad abstract love.

The best I've ever managed to explain is that it's like collecting. It's not really the bird so much as the joy of the chase, the surprise, whatever. If you collect comics, if you are a particular kind of collector, you may know that issue #741 has mediocre art and a lousy story, but that's not the POINT. The joy of having #741 turn up while you're flipping idly through the boxes at an estate sale remains.

And of course, with birds, there's no storage required of anything but binoculars.

Anyway, I thought of all of that because I read a great blog entry by a non-birder who lives with a birder, and who made the comic collection analogy, and it cracked me up. Also, just read the Birdchick Blog in general, it's cool and has bird banding and bees.

Such ingenuity! Well done! ^_^

Um, ignore this. I clicked the wrong reply link. O_o Heh... *embarrassed*

Others have already explained the appeal of birding well.

With me, I don't just not like-like birds, I actively DISlike them- and the feeling is mutual. If someone has a pet parrot that supposedly loves everyone, it will bite me, shun me, or both. Geese want to kill me.

Watching them from a distance is cool, though.

From what I hear, geese want to kill everyone.

Exactly what I was going to say, but more like collecting baseball cards or other trading cards. Only difference is that you don't keep the card, you just have fun ticking them off your life list, and always going after the holy grail of the collection, like say, seeing an ivory billed woodpecker. It would be comparable to finding a T206 Honus Wagner card. You know the chances are slim to none, but it's possible, only, like, you wouldn't become a millionaire if you found an ivory bill.

You know come to think of it, that kinda sucks.....

A few months ago, I showed an avid birder some close-up photos I had shot the day before of a wild Harpy Eagle. She was both thrilled and terribly envious at the same time. I asked her if that was what birding was all about. She said, "Yes, it's the gloating. It's all about the gloating." I've never heard a better description for any kind of collecting.


I think there need to be different words for "people who like to watch birds and observe their behavior" and "people who like to seek out and identify particular species."

Peach-faced lovebirds are noisy, greedy, horny, "tissue-raping psychopaths" - well, ours are. I bought my husband a T-shirt with "I am a lovebird sex-toy" printed on it - one of our birds likes to masturbate using a tissue... but only if you hold the tissue in place for her. I keep having to brush her off my head as she has started taking an amorous interest in my pony-tail.

Oh... and expensive if they get sick - we've worked out that they cost around 8000 UK pounds per kilo.

Just say you like birds. Doesn't matter if you don't like them in the same way you like other animals. And some of the other reasons listed above.

That's rather ironic because I LOVE birds, but I'm not a huge fan of birdwatching. I might enjoy watching a robin if it's outside my house and watching it flutter around with its mate, but the idea of checking off different species of birds as I spot them doesn't appeal to me. I'd rather be interacting with them.

So kinda the same thing, only the opposite.

I was going to note this very thing, but you and another aviculturist beat me to it!

I've been lizarding lately. The courtyard at work here in Phoenix has all sorts of little guys living in it.

Today's sighting was a beautiful juvenile Tiger Whiptail. So cool.

The other night it was a gecko.

Lately, I've been preoccupied with my airsoft gun, preventing my neighborhood brown squirrels from eating my baby nuthatches. I'm also hoping that by feeding the babies of the brown squirrels (there are three and they are impossibly adorable and they love to ebat up their pop) CheezIts, they will not eat said baby nuthatches. Perhaps some sort of a friendship will develop and they'll help me clean the house.

Oh, and did you hear (I thought about you when I saw this), Steven Colbert talked today about eating a wombat??

You could say "Nah, I just think they're pretty"...