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Re: [CALBIRDS] The Elitist

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  • QuiAvisPetit@aol.com
    I would challenge anyone to name a few of these birders you call elitist. If you were to do so I am sure that you would get a barrage of emails from birders
    Message 1 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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      I would challenge anyone to name a few of these birders you call elitist.
      If you were to do so I am sure that you would get a barrage of emails from
      birders across the state defending them. The emails would be along the lines of
      "that's the person who showed me my life (insert bird here)" or "they taught
      me about X" or "they gave me directions to such and such." Many of these
      "elitist" birders are the ones who share their knowledge most freely. I am sure
      that none of them consider themselves elitist or hold any such views.
      Personally, I always feel slightly sheepish when I get to see a bird that is off
      limits to others.
      There are many places that are closed to the public, there always have
      been and there always will be. The birders who have access to some of them
      have fought long and hard to gain access for the public. Many places that we do
      have access to are because of birders like these. Some places such as
      military bases just won't give public access, this is nothing new. Would it then
      better that no one birds there, and vagrants go undiscovered? Personally I
      feel better knowing that someone is checking those spots. Yes, it is too bad
      there isn't access for the rest but only a true listing fanatic would get that
      bent out of shape over it.
      Remember that in the long run we are all on the same side and are united
      by common ground.


      My two cents,
      Daryl Coldren
      Arcata
      "When Wilderness is outlawed only outlaws can save Wilderness." ~ Edward
      Abbey



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    • David Coursey
      As a beginning birder, I was a tad upset about situations like this on more than one occasion. However, this is a bit like other seniority systems -- the
      Message 2 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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        As a beginning birder, I was a tad upset about situations like this
        on more than one occasion. However, this is a bit like other
        "seniority systems" -- the longer you are around, the more you like
        it. Once I took the time to learn the names of my fellow birders and
        show some interest, they helped me find birds I'd not otherwise see.
        I've managed, on a couple of specific occasions, to help lots of
        people get lifers I had access to. I am a 300-life list birder,
        hardly an elitist.

        Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to get access to all the
        birds they'd like to see. And, to some extent, the original finder
        controls who gets to see the bird. The fact is that rare birds draw
        big crowds -- even not so rare birds -- and those crowds disrupt the
        lives of neighbors, landowners, the general public, etc. We are
        generally asking someone's forbearance whenever a rare bird appears.
        Sometimes we get excellent cooperation and local tolerance, sometimes
        not.

        I am not sure which specific birders you are referring to, but
        generally speaking, our state's "elite" birders contribute much more
        to birding that the size of their life lists. They teach classes,
        write books, share information online and elsewhere, and even answer
        idiotic (in retrospect) beginner questions from people like me. Does
        it bother me that they get birds that I, too, could just drive up and
        see sometimes? I guess, but looking after one's friends is a fact of
        human existence and, in birding because of access issues, sometimes a
        practical necessity.

        Birders, as a group, are pretty decent folks. All I ask is that we
        all recognize our responsibility to ethical birding (in the ABA
        sense) and help each other whenever we can. For the most part, that's
        what the top birders do. Most of them realize that with elite status
        come some elite responsibilities. Which is really more than we have a
        right to expect.

        (I am posting this with special thanks to Mike Feighner; David Yee;
        John Sterling; the late Waldo Holt; my birding mentor, Cheri
        Pillsbury; and all the other great birders who have taken me "under
        their wing". Gee, I hate birding puns!)

        David Coursey
        Occasional Birder from Tracy
      • Kimball Garrett
        Dear All, I hadn t planned to get sucked into this morass, but there is one important point to be made that I don t believe has been aired. If anything like
        Message 3 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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          Dear All,

          I hadn't planned to get sucked into this morass, but there is one
          important point to be made that I don't believe has been aired. If
          anything like an elite "Inner Birding Circle" of birders exists, it
          consists almost entirely of birders with a strong track record of
          documenting rarities through photographs and thorough written
          descriptions. If I were lucky enough to find a very unusual bird in a
          sensitive area, I would make every effort to contact friends and fellow
          birders who I know will work hard to critically examine and document
          that bird (and submit documentation to the CBRC). Frankly, I'm not that
          concerned about getting additional birders out there who merely want to
          put something on their (state, county, or fill in the blank) lists and
          have no history of documenting birds or cooperating with the CBRC. Of
          course I (and all birders I know) have no objection to encouraging wide
          enjoyment of rarities that are in accessible, public localities that
          have no issues relating to birder impacts.

          This suggests that one way to "graduate" to this mythical "elite circle"
          would be to work at developing a strong track record of careful and
          critical birding, extensive useful documentation, and cooperation with
          the CBRC, NAB, etc.

          Kimball

          Kimball L. Garrett
          Ornithology Collections Manager
          Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
          900 Exposition Blvd.
          Los Angeles CA 90007
          (213) 763-3368
          (213) 746-2999 FAX
          kgarrett@...
        • Steve Hampton
          I think the way to get into any so-called inner circle in any region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most importantly, explore new areas
          Message 4 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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            I think the way to get into any so-called "inner circle" in any region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most importantly, explore new areas and find your own rarities.

            Not everyone shares birds in a timely fashion, and not every bird is found in a publically-accessible place. That's just the way it is. Let it go and find your own-- it's MUCH more satisfying.








            Steve Hampton
            ________________
            Resource Economist
            Office of Spill Prevention and Response
            California Dept of Fish and Game
            PO Box 944209
            Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
            -----------------------------------
            (916) 323-4724 phone
            (916) 324-8829 fax
          • Ryan Terrill
            Hi Everyone- I first want to say that this is a fun discussion. Birding really is a community and a culture, more than many of us would like to admit. As for
            Message 5 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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              Hi Everyone-

              I first want to say that this is a fun discussion. Birding really is a community and a culture, more than many of us would like to admit. As for the elite group of birders, I have recently had a bit of light shed on the activity of birding, and how I got to where I am. I moved to Argentina in June, and things are a lot different down here. Sure, there is an active birding community, but noone really birds regularly together, and If I want to know how to tell Shiny from Screaming Cowbird, or The high-altitide miners, or The Canasteros, I just have to go look and listen to them a whole hell of a lot, because there is no Rich Stallcup or Guy McCaskie just up the road whom I can ask about the differences in flight calls between Andean and Rothschild´s Swift. It is really showing me what incredible amounts of work a lot of people went through to get birding to where it is today, and how ignorant I, at least, would be without these people. These are the shoulders we are
              standing on.

              -Ryan Terrill
              Buenos Aires, Argentina


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            • Lidia Seebeck
              For background-I m not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder. With a life list around 230, I d say intermediate is about right. Sure there are some
              Message 6 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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                For background-I'm not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder. With
                a life list around 230, I'd say "intermediate" is about right.



                Sure there are some pretty expert birders in this state. Kimball Garrett,
                Steve Sosensky, Guy McCaskie, Roger Higson, and many others come to mind.
                Sure there are some less-than-nice birders in this state. I know that's the
                case in many places. But, on average, California's birders are actually
                really nice and that even seems to go double for the experts. I know there
                have been situations when I've failed to get a report in on time, usually
                for a balky email connection. I really do try to get my reports in the same
                day and my hubby is nice enough (and now addicted enough to birding!) to
                help me once we get back to the house so I have the time to type something
                up. But I can well imagine the situation for those whose spouses aren't
                birders-especially on a weekend. I haven't yet encountered a situation
                where I have failed to send a report because of a delicate location, but I
                can imagine that if a bird were in my neighbors' yards I might not be able
                to report. One of my neighbors loves birds and knows about my hobby so they
                might well consent, others might not. So far all my reports have either
                been in my own yard or else viewable in a more public locale.



                I do think, however, that birders really should be careful to take into
                account the fact that our reports, properly checked and documented as
                necessary, help increase the knowledge base of ALL California birders. I
                remember a report of an Osprey that I made here in the Inland Empire last
                fall and I got some reports back thanking me for the observation as there
                was some sort of survey going on and the Osprey observation was helpful
                somehow. I think that even an amateur birder with a good observation can
                make a difference. Of course, accurate reports are the most helpful, and it
                is important to verify your observation.



                I don't know the situation that led to the creation of this thread
                (something about a Woodcock?) but I really can't say that I know of too
                many birders that would deliberately hold back on reporting something
                exciting unless there was some odd circumstance that might require
                discretion.



                In short-California's top birders are mostly experts, not elitists.



                Lidia Seebeck

                Pachappa Hill, Riverside



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Morgan Churchill
                As someone with birding experience within and outside of California, I will throw in a few cents. First off, I rather agree with Doug on most of his points.
                Message 7 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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                  As someone with birding experience within and outside of California, I will
                  throw in a few cents.

                  First off, I rather agree with Doug on most of his points. It strikes me as
                  rather hypocritical to use the list, but at the same time not to report
                  things when a rarity in your neck shows up. However I can see the point of
                  people not posting about birds on military or otherwise difficult to access
                  places. I recently had a dilemna like this...On a field trip in Western
                  Wyoming this past September, I happened upon a Blackburnian Warbler.
                  However...I had literally no idea where it was, as the locality was off
                  several dirt roads smack dab in the middle of nowhere. I didn't want to
                  lead birders on a wild goose hunt for what was likely a unchaseable bird.
                  As for birds where the identity is far from confirmed, I would rather have
                  it posted so others could hear about it and maybe throw in their two cents,
                  then for no one to say anything.

                  Also, I envy the birding situation in San Diego and California (and not
                  being around for birds like Yellow-green Vireo or Bar-tailed Godwit is
                  killing me). The local statewide listserve is nearly dead here, very few
                  birders seem to be active much, and many that I have encountered are not
                  even half the skill of birders I would meet in the field in California.
                  Overall, if you have to put up with a few elitist birders, it seems like a
                  very small price to pay for birding in such a great state.

                  Morgan Churchill
                  Laramie, Wyoming

                  On 10/4/07, Lidia Seebeck <lidia@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > For background-I'm not an amateur but decidedly not an expert birder.
                  > With
                  > a life list around 230, I'd say "intermediate" is about right.
                  >
                  > Sure there are some pretty expert birders in this state. Kimball Garrett,
                  > Steve Sosensky, Guy McCaskie, Roger Higson, and many others come to mind.
                  > Sure there are some less-than-nice birders in this state. I know that's
                  > the
                  > case in many places. But, on average, California's birders are actually
                  > really nice and that even seems to go double for the experts. I know there
                  > have been situations when I've failed to get a report in on time, usually
                  > for a balky email connection. I really do try to get my reports in the
                  > same
                  > day and my hubby is nice enough (and now addicted enough to birding!) to
                  > help me once we get back to the house so I have the time to type something
                  > up. But I can well imagine the situation for those whose spouses aren't
                  > birders-especially on a weekend. I haven't yet encountered a situation
                  > where I have failed to send a report because of a delicate location, but I
                  > can imagine that if a bird were in my neighbors' yards I might not be able
                  > to report. One of my neighbors loves birds and knows about my hobby so
                  > they
                  > might well consent, others might not. So far all my reports have either
                  > been in my own yard or else viewable in a more public locale.
                  >
                  > I do think, however, that birders really should be careful to take into
                  > account the fact that our reports, properly checked and documented as
                  > necessary, help increase the knowledge base of ALL California birders. I
                  > remember a report of an Osprey that I made here in the Inland Empire last
                  > fall and I got some reports back thanking me for the observation as there
                  > was some sort of survey going on and the Osprey observation was helpful
                  > somehow. I think that even an amateur birder with a good observation can
                  > make a difference. Of course, accurate reports are the most helpful, and
                  > it
                  > is important to verify your observation.
                  >
                  > I don't know the situation that led to the creation of this thread
                  > (something about a Woodcock?) but I really can't say that I know of too
                  > many birders that would deliberately hold back on reporting something
                  > exciting unless there was some odd circumstance that might require
                  > discretion.
                  >
                  > In short-California's top birders are mostly experts, not elitists.
                  >
                  > Lidia Seebeck
                  >
                  > Pachappa Hill, Riverside
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >
                  >



                  --
                  Morgan Churchill
                  San Diego (SDSU area)


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Lilith Mageborn
                  Well. This thread has reinforced my belief that every group is a microcosm of society at large, much as all members would like our group to be perfect and
                  Message 8 of 15 , Oct 4, 2007
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                    Well. This thread has reinforced my belief that every group is a
                    microcosm of society at large, much as all members would like "our group"
                    to be perfect and free of perceived societal flaws. If any group could be
                    flawless, we'd see a miraculous walking on water, en masse, picking up
                    Bar-Tailed Godwits and oystercatchers, or a parting of the Pacific Ocean
                    in search of certain terns, gulls and albatrosses. ;-)

                    For my part, my irregular hours as a 1099 contract worker working several
                    jobs and raising a teenager single-handedly enforces time and financial
                    constraints (not to mention being perpetually exhausted) precludes me
                    from chasing after confirmed or unconfirmed rarities unless they're local
                    (as was the case with that Red-Faced Warbler in 9/05), but I thoroughly
                    enjoy reading such posts and the discussions in trying to pin down this
                    or that bird's ID because I learn from such discussions and because I'm
                    equally analytical. Well, I'm a proofreader and an editor: I have to be
                    nit-picky!

                    Elitism? I see where Doug Aguillard is coming from, but I also get the
                    impression that the people who post possible or confirmed rarities are
                    the truly hard-core birders. Maybe I'm wrong about that (Lord knows I've
                    been wrong plenty of times before), but you know, if a possibility is
                    posted in Area XYZ, whether that area is accessible or not, then I'd
                    think it would alert us to the **possibility** of a Rara Avis lurking in
                    the general locality; it would then encourage us to keep our eyes open
                    for said possibility.

                    So -- post away, I say!

                    Just my scraped-together two cents' worth.

                    Sue Jorgenson
                    260 life birds +/-
                    Anaheim, CA



                    On Thu, 04 Oct 2007 10:46:20 -0700 "Steve Hampton"
                    <shampton@...> writes:
                    > I think the way to get into any so-called "inner circle" in any
                    > region is to get out there, meet people, be friendly, and, most
                    > importantly, explore new areas and find your own rarities.
                    >
                    > Not everyone shares birds in a timely fashion, and not every bird is
                    > found in a publically-accessible place. That's just the way it is.
                    > Let it go and find your own-- it's MUCH more satisfying.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Steve Hampton
                    > ________________
                    > Resource Economist
                    > Office of Spill Prevention and Response
                    > California Dept of Fish and Game
                    > PO Box 944209
                    > Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
                    > -----------------------------------
                    > (916) 323-4724 phone
                    > (916) 324-8829 fax
                    >
                    >
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                  • surteesdn@aol.com
                    In a message dated 10/4/07 10:12:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... And that s the most cogent reason for posting all suspected rarities -- if the area the bird
                    Message 9 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                      In a message dated 10/4/07 10:12:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
                      lilithm3@... writes:

                      > if a possibility is
                      > posted in Area XYZ, whether that area is accessible or not, then I'd
                      > think it would alert us to the **possibility** of a Rara Avis lurking in
                      > the general locality; it would then encourage us to keep our eyes open
                      > for said possibility.
                      >
                      > So -- post away, I say!
                      >
                      And that's the most cogent reason for posting all suspected rarities
                      -- if the area the bird was in is sensitive, say so and caution birders of any
                      restrictions. Don't just keep it for your 'birding buddies'. That's rude!

                      Dave Surtees
                      Hollywood
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                    • Floyd Hayes
                      I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so many rarities that we often see with relative
                      Message 10 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                        I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists
                        for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so
                        many rarities that we often see with relative ease,
                        and teaching us about the finer points of
                        distribution, seasonality and identification of birds
                        in California.

                        Floyd Hayes
                        Hidden Valley Lake, CA


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                      • Lilith Mageborn
                        This is why I see both sides of the issue. We DO owe that debt of gratitude to the truly dedicated birders. If not for them, I wouldn t have Lentz s Birds of
                        Message 11 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                          This is why I see both sides of the issue. We DO owe that debt of
                          gratitude to the truly dedicated birders.

                          If not for them, I wouldn't have Lentz's Birds of the Southern California
                          Coast or Schram's A Birder's Guide to Southern California, or Kempton's
                          Birding Northern California (or Anza-Borrego, Salton Sea, OC Breeding
                          Atlas, Ocean Birds of the Nearshore Pacific, and the list goes on and on
                          and on).

                          Well, however the issue resolves itself, I will continue to read and
                          learn from the posts and keep my eyes open when I travel on business
                          throughout California, knowing that a suspected or confirmed rarity has
                          been seen here, or there. For isn't it said that "fortune favors the
                          prepared"? :-)

                          Sue Jorgenson
                          Anaheim, CA

                          On Fri, 5 Oct 2007 09:42:45 -0700 (PDT) Floyd Hayes
                          <floyd_hayes@...> writes:
                          > I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the elitists
                          > for exploring and discovering new hotspots, finding so
                          > many rarities that we often see with relative ease,
                          > and teaching us about the finer points of
                          > distribution, seasonality and identification of birds
                          > in California.
                          >
                          > Floyd Hayes
                          > Hidden Valley Lake, CA
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
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                        • John Puschock
                          There s been a couple things stated in this thread that have bothered me, so here are my thoughts: 1) A lifelist is a poor measure of birding skill. Don t
                          Message 12 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                            There's been a couple things stated in this thread that have bothered me, so here are my thoughts:

                            1) A lifelist is a poor measure of birding skill. Don't label yourself based on that number. I've found that the larger geographic area a list covers, the more it is a measure of financial resources and time rather than birding skill. I'm usually immediately impressed by someone with a large county or state list, but I reserve judgment for someone with a large ABA Area or world list until I see them in action.

                            2) An elite birder is not the same thing as an elitist. Just because you're one of those doesn't automatically make you the other.

                            For the record, I'm in favor of "Elite Inner Circles" when I'm on the inside but against them when I'm not. :) Unfortunately, I'm generally not.

                            Anyway, I agree with one of Doug's basic points: if you take from the list, you should also give back when appropriate. Also, I think it's better to report a potential rarity rather than wait for confirmation, but chaser beware. If you can't do the time (i.e., miss a bird or find out the ID was incorrect), don't do the crime (i.e., chase).

                            John Puschock
                            San Diego, CA
                            g_g_allin@...

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                          • scre@aol.com
                            I didn t want to get sucked into this but there are a few points that I wanted to make. I don t feel that there is elitism among California s birders. What I
                            Message 13 of 15 , Oct 5, 2007
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                              I didn't want to get sucked into this but there are a few points that I
                              wanted
                              to make. I don't feel that there is elitism among California's birders.
                              What
                              I do find is, a point already made by several others, that people who
                              actively
                              bird and document their sightings tend to bump into each other and become
                              friends. As time passes you come to know and trust these people and report
                              birds to them. You're not keeping others out because you are an elitist but
                              because you don't know everyone on these listserves and don't know what they
                              might do when you report a bird. As much as we might like to think that
                              birders represent an atypical slice of the general population, not all
                              birders
                              act according to what the majority of us think of as common and decent
                              behavior. Plenty of people have reported birds on private property only to
                              have hordes of birders come out and act in a disrespectful manner to the
                              landowners resulting in that spot being closed for everyone. This has
                              happened many times at several different places throughout the state. I
                              have
                              even heard stories of birders trespassing where people had permission to do
                              bird surveys, even onto military land (quite the federal offense!).

                              This type of behavior jeopardizes birding these spots in the future for those
                              who have worked hard at getting access and keeping it, just because a few
                              people who read it on a listerve decide to ruin it for everyone. By telling
                              a
                              few friends, you are allowing a few people who have proven to be trustworthy
                              to
                              see a bird and to help in documenting it. Is this really elitism? I just
                              can't see being upset about a bird that is found on private property or a
                              military base and not getting a chance to see it. It seems even more
                              ridiculous to call it elitism when someone does get to see it because either
                              a) they have worked to get access or b) they have proven to a friend with
                              access that they will enter in a responsible manner.

                              As much as we'd like to say that we don't judge if someone makes a mistake,
                              there are plenty who do and end up harassing an individual because of a
                              mistake. This happens even to birders of Mike San Miguel's caliber, so it
                              ends up becoming a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. People
                              will be pissed that they chased a bird that might have been misided or, as in
                              this case, they will be pissed that it wasn't reported.

                              Another reason not to post is because of sensitive habitat. As much as
                              we'd like to think that we are all conservationists and won't destroy the
                              habitat when chasing birds, it does happen. When a mega is found in a small
                              area that suddenly gets 50 people, they are going to have an impact.
                              Sometimes the bird and the habitat are more important than a few people
                              getting to tick it off.

                              As for those on this listserve it seems that all those who actively
                              bird do report birds here when it is appropriate to do so. I have read plenty
                              of reports from Mike San Miguel and others on the birds they have found, who
                              may not report birds at times because of the above reasons. No one is
                              obligated to post something here just because they read the messages
                              (otherwise the majority of this listserve would have to be kicked off). People
                              are gracious in their willingness to share information when appropriate,
                              however, sometimes a person has to choose to not share that information with
                              everyone. Good birding everyone.

                              David Vander Pluym
                              Ventura, Ca



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