It is currently July 28th, 2014, 12:17 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 27th, 2011, 10:09 pm 
Curious how you got into birding? Were you a birder first, then a herper? Herper first, then a birder?

Also wondering what the draw is for you? The more I'm outdoors doing the field herping thing, I can see how birding would be an automatic fit. I see birds when I'm out, but haven't had the urge to grab some binocs and really get into it. Is it one of those start doing it and you'll get it things or are some folks just not cut out for birding?


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 6:31 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 am
Posts: 3458
Location: Morrisville, PA
I'm actually going through this right now. I've decided to take the plunge and learn about the birds in my area. I'll always be a herper at heart, but let's face it - herps aren't always available to find. It gives me an added bonus to being out in the field. I'm hoping that once I learn what the "trophy" birds are, the thrill of the treasure hunt will give me even more reason to be out and about when I'm getting skunked on herps (or in the winter).

*I'm also trying to transition into being more of a naturalist and learning how everything ties together. This is gonna involve learning about trees, flora, insects, soil, etc. This will be a big jump for me, but it hopefully serve to understand the whole natural world better, and relate it back to herps ;)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 6:55 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 869
Location: NE Ohio
I was always into nature as a kid. Growing up we went camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, etc... seeing wildlife was probably the thing that attracted me the most. My dad kept a birding lifelist since before I was born and taught me how to keep one. I may have started lifelisting with birds, but for my whole life, finding, and catching, a herp trumped everything. Eventually I started keeping listlists of vertebrates I saw, but I don't particularily think either birding or herping came first, I think it was just seeing wildlife in general.

Bob, that is a cool attitude to have, the outdoors starts becoming infinatly more exciting when you start piecing together how everything interacts with the environment. Also, you were killing me with your bird pictures on Facebook, because I couldn't post up any IDs on the page you posted them on. I also noticed you talked about gulls, there has recently been a big push in gull ID and gull watching, but it is mostly because they are some of the hardest birds to tease IDs out of, especially when you start looking at juveniles and rarities. If you try to jump into gulls it will be easy to be discouraged.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 7:42 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 am
Posts: 3458
Location: Morrisville, PA
I'm gonna pm you Andy.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 8:39 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 2614
Location: Ventura, CA
I strongly encourage any naturalist, herper, whatever to learn at least a bit about birds. As mentioned above, it's a great way to broaden your understanding of ecology, the seasons and habitats. It can also be a heck of a sport!

I would suggest getting a good field guide (I prefer the National Geo guide to NA over the Sibley but they're both excellent). Then check out the range maps for all birds that normally occur in your area that you've never even heard of. If you're a newbie, that'll be hundreds! ...and a lot of those are screamers :) Once I did that I was totally hooked on trying to find all that stuff.

Local Audobon bird walks may help you get oriented, but if you're as into it as you are into herps you'll need to meet some of the hardcore types and learn some tips and local vagrant traps, a birding term for places which concentrate migrants and tend to produce birds out of range or season, e.g., "vagrants" or rarities.

As Andy indicated, once you've learned all the easy stuff you may enjoy the challenge of more subtle identification problems as in immature gulls, fall warlbers, empid flycatchers, sparrows and certain shorebirds.

One thing about birders though that I find is rather true ...very generally they can live up to their reputation as a fussy, nerdy lot, but that's just a gross characterization ...there are many really fun and interesting people in the sport.

Hope you take the dip, pun intended. In birding circles as "dip" is a miss on a chased bird.


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 10:37 am 
Appreciate the replies, I'm definitely a naturalist at heart, although herps have always been at the top of the list. I have a good friend who is one of the top birders in our state, that'd probably be a good place to start.

Brick - you nailed it, that's exactly where I'm at right now. I tend to get so focused on finding herps that I know I'm missing a lot of other things (birds, mammals, flora, geology, etc.) around me when out in the field.

Andy - cool that you keep a list on a wide variety of animals.

monklet - appreciate the tips. My birder friend (who is also an amazing herper) told me some stories about looking for a specific bird that gave new meaning to the word "hardcore". Those guys do some pretty nutty stuff when it comes to getting a lifer.

I'm just not sure about taking that plunge over to the "dark side".


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 10:43 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:52 am
Posts: 3458
Location: Morrisville, PA
I'm not that sure either. :lol:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 28th, 2011, 6:23 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 3:18 pm
Posts: 917
Location: Northern New England
brick911 wrote:
I'm actually going through this right now. I've decided to take the plunge and learn about the birds in my area. I'll always be a herper at heart, but let's face it - herps aren't always available to find. It gives me an added bonus to being out in the field. I'm hoping that once I learn what the "trophy" birds are, the thrill of the treasure hunt will give me even more reason to be out and about when I'm getting skunked on herps (or in the winter).

*I'm also trying to transition into being more of a naturalist and learning how everything ties together. This is gonna involve learning about trees, flora, insects, soil, etc. This will be a big jump for me, but it hopefully serve to understand the whole natural world better, and relate it back to herps ;)


You should get a good guide to the Crayfish in your area if there's one available. I got into Crayfish a couple years ago, there is very little data on species distributions and as herpers we encounter crayfish on a pretty regular basis. I was surprised to learn there are 9 species native to Vermont and one new arrival, the Rusty Crayfish.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 29th, 2011, 9:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 869
Location: NE Ohio
Gyri wrote:
You should get a good guide to the Crayfish in your area if there's one available. I got into Crayfish a couple years ago, there is very little data on species distributions and as herpers we encounter crayfish on a pretty regular basis. I was surprised to learn there are 9 species native to Vermont and one new arrival, the Rusty Crayfish.


I have been trying to learn my crayfish, and after contacting the crayfish guy for Ohio he was going to send me a key but must have forgotten. I can only ID a couple of species and as of right now there is no good field guide for them here (although I hear one is in the works).


But I will say that is much easier to become a well rounded naturalist starting with the things that you are currently interested in and going from there. If you are thinking about learning your birds, you will be more likely to do it and forcus on it, whereas if you try to force yourself into something like crayfish it will be harder for you to stay motivated. At this point I have a pretty good handle on the local vertebrates, trees and spring wildflowers and am now looking to broaden into invertebrates, with Crayfish, Butterflies, Dragonflies and Freshwater Mussels at the top of my list.

Andy


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 29th, 2011, 11:44 am 

Joined: October 28th, 2010, 3:26 pm
Posts: 364
I got into birding as a result of my dad taking me and my brothers out for walks in the woods in our (then) rural-like suburban neighborhood. I'm not sure how I became fascinated with nature and my brother's not so much. As a youngster (five years old or so) I really liked dinosaurs and for some reason, foxes. But around age 8 my mom took me to a bookstore and when I laid eyes on a field guide to the birds of North America by Roger Tory Peterson (which my mom bought for me) I was hooked. I think it was the sheer variety of colorful birds in the book that captured my interest. My parents noticed my interest, and they would buy me different field guides, books, etc on birds. Oddly, it wasn't until I was probably 12 or so that I actually started birding. Once I got my first pair of binoculars and was brave enough to venture out into the woodlands on my own (I guess I'm a wuss) I was astonished as just how easy it was to actually find birds. I think that's another reason birding is so popular...ease! The most species of birds I've seen in Ohio in a day is over 100. For herps? I have no clue...but probably about 12 or so?

I think birds are the easiest of all animal classes to learn...and (dare I say?) the most fun. Especially in North America, there are relatively few groups of birds which cause identification headaches (compared to other areas). Think our flycatchers are bad? Try South America. Trouble teasing out our warblers? Nothing compared to Old World warblers. I love all groups of animals, but it really is hard to compete with a blackburnian warbler or scarlet tanager that drops down from the canopy to drink at a stream, just ten feet away.

Seems like crayfish are suddenly getting a good deal of attention. I'll have to keep my eye out for that Ohio guide, Andy. Maybe I can then ID the critter that clamped down on my finger in Mohican and had me yelping like a sissy-girl!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 30th, 2011, 4:31 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:28 am
Posts: 1766
Location: FL Keys
When I was in high school my brother in law and I had a deal. There were 7 traffic lights between our house and school and we agreed that if we ever made all the lights green enroute, we’d turn around and take the day off. It took us almost an entire year of trying: speeding up to 50 in a 25 zone to catch an existing green, slowing to 10 in a 45 to “milk” a red, etc. Well, one beautiful mid-May morning in central Wisconsin, we accomplished it without even half trying. It came as a complete surprise and being unprepared, we could think of nothing better to do than visit a perennial Barred owl nest in the crotch of a giant maple tree in the mature bottom lands that ran along the Wisconsin River. Our folks were home, so going back to grab the fishing gear was out of the question.
We parked at a little turn around at the end of one of the tracts owned by a local paper mill and began walking quietly towards the nest. (The bird was a bit flighty cuz we visited fairly often, so a bit of stealth was involved for a sighting.) I was ahead of my brother and stopped near the crown of a giant felled tree to allow him to catch up and as I was kneeling there, I caught movement in the branches to one side. A Chestnut-sided warbler flitted right up to me in curiosity and I was completely and utterly blown away! I’d only seen them in an old Peterson field guide we had at home and had no idea they lived in our area. Then another flash of color revealed a Male Blackburnian warbler and if possible, I was even more blown away. Then a Black and White, Myrtle, a Wilson's, Oven bird, another Chestnut, etc. As I sat there, the fallen tree and surrounding woods came alive with migrating warblers. It was over far too quickly but I’ve never forgotten. I couldn’t wait for three o’clock to come that aft so I could go home and ID everything in the book.
It was that precise day that I became a birder as opposed to "a watcher of Cardinals” and 30 plus years later, I still get far too excited in all the promise of a warm morning in May.

Birds came first; I've only been chasing snakes for 4 years.

Tim


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: December 31st, 2011, 5:51 pm 
Appreciate the replies. I have the Sibley field guide and a good friend who's been birding for a long time. I need to go hang out with him on a few outings. Why not add another addictive hobby to the mix?


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 1st, 2012, 7:25 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 537
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
I always watched the bird feeder growing up, but didn't start a life list back then. My last semester off college I was 1 credit short for my wildlife minor, and took a class where we learned all the birds, mammals, and herps of Florida. Soon after returning to Michigan a Rufus-sided Towhee flew up and I surprised myself by knowing exactly what it was. After that I started trying to find other birds in the yard that did not frequent the feeder. Two years later I found Mike Pingleton's website and started keeping lists for mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. For the last few years mammals have been the priority, although I do herp a lot and I did a lot of birding this year.



Curtis


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 2nd, 2012, 7:09 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 4:21 pm
Posts: 420
I was always interested in birds as poignant expressions of life. They are neat in that they are always around, and they are easy to show people. It is a relatively rare opportunity to show people a wild herp, but even on the most un-nature related outing and you can look/listen for a few seconds and find, and perhaps indentify, quite a few species(I will say I've left seagulls-haha- strictly alone! except for knowing that the ones that plagued my highschool are ringbills). Walk outside and within seconds the zinging courtship song of the Anna's hummingbird. Even in the most citied up places birds can abound-I also keep my eyes out for feral birds/escaped pets(7 species of parrot fly in L.A area alone, and this only counts species that are reproducing, not Betty Boo's lost cockatiel). Birds can also give tantalizing glimpses into there natural history...watching a bird family for a season is quite a special treat. Also, birds prey on and are preyed on by animals we are otherwise interested in. I had a bunch of bird books growing up and managed to lifelist a few hundred species without actually looking for them.

What is interesting is that birds seem rather hands off. I doubt many birders also keep birds in captivity, but most herpers maintain captive herps.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 6:02 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Posts: 542
Location: Montana
While I consider myself a birder, and have been sense I was young, I try harder at herping then birding. If that makes sense to anyone other then me.

monklet wrote:
I strongly encourage any naturalist, herper, whatever to learn at least a bit about birds. As mentioned above, it's a great way to broaden your understanding of ecology, the seasons and habitats. It can also be a heck of a sport!

Hardcore birders are very interesting to be around, and like Andy Avram wildlife in general was always the most important interest for me, and still is.

With all that said, and I'm not knocking the life list, but I've never understood why people keep one. Do you forget seeing a Titmouse, Long-billed curlew, Lyer snake, tantilla...

-Dell


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 3:09 pm 
Dell Despain wrote:
With all that said, and I'm not knocking the life list, but I've never understood why people keep one.tantilla
You sure wouldn't forget an encounter with a vicious turkey. I never kept a life list either, kinda wondering the same thing, why do people keep them?


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 3:34 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 869
Location: NE Ohio
I keep one because it is like a barometer of what I have seen and and what I have not seen. I enjoy looking at my list and thinking back to finding this species or that, or the trip I was on when I saw it. I also suppose when I am older and my memory starts to fade it will still be there reminding me what I have seen during my life.

It also has secondary benefits as I order the things I have seen taxonomically under their Order and Families. It helps me keep a better understanding of species relationships.

I guess in the end I just enjoy keeping one.

Andy

p.s. I also do occasionally forget a random species I have seen and remember finding it when I look back at the list.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 8th, 2012, 6:38 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 537
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
Andy Avram wrote:
I also do occasionally forget a random species I have seen and remember finding it when I look back at the list.


My memory isn't good enough to remember the names of the birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians I've seen. This really becomes apparent on international trips. For example, I've seen maybe 8 species of Sunbirds, very pretty birds, but I can't recall the species name of one of them right now. When I look at the name, and maybe date, I can recall the bird.
I've moved on to Avisys for life listing, and that allows me to store a lot more data than just a simple life list. In a couple years I should be able to see patterns of when and where I see what.

Curtis


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 9th, 2012, 7:18 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 2623
Location: San Antonio, TX
I have been a lifelong herper...well, at least since I was 8 years old.

When I was a sophomore in college, I finally got to take a herpetology course. In that class, I met my future roommate, Tom. Tom was an avid naturalist and while not as herp-oriented as me, he was a birder. Spending the next few months out in the field with Tom I watched his excitement at finding a "new bird". I gradually started keeping track of what we found together and bought a cheap pair of binoculars. Within a few months I was birding and keeping a list. That was in 1983 and I am still doing it today.

- Birding is a great way to get outdoors.
- Unlike herping, you can do it all year even in the dead of winter.
- The local fauna changes during the year due to migration which is less true of herps.
- It is far less consumptive and destructive than many types of herping, you can do it in National Parks, State Parks, Wilderness Areas, etc. and no one cares.
- There are very few laws that limit your ability to bird.
- Birding is encouraged in many areas.
- Diversity. The county I live in has around 95 recorded herp species but over 425 species of bird recorded.
- Birders share good birding localities willingly because birding is relatively low impact on the environment (compared to herping).

Why keep lists? It is fun, competitive, it gives you something to go out and bird for even if you can't travel. Can you get 300 species in your county/state, etc? How many species can you see in your backyard, city, etc.? How many species can you see in a day, month, year? It becomes kind of a game. You can do the same thing with herps, but it is much harder.

You can also "graduate" to different levels of birding. You can decide to learn to identify birds by their calls, immature gulls, shorebirds, etc. There is a wealth of different challenges that are available.

But mostly, you are outside (although you can easily bird from inside as well).

There are some downsides to birding as a herper:

- it is hard to look up and down at the same time
- birders get up early, herpers stay out late. It can wear you down. I just came back from Ecuador where I did very little herping in some awesome areas because I had been out in the field looking for birds from 5am to 6pm every day and was soaked and physically exhausted. It pained me to have to go to bed to get up at 4 the next morning because I new I was missing herps. (I still suffered through a few nights of herping, and I missed some birds because of herps :) )

And once in a while, you come across something that takes your breath away. Here's a photo I got of the Holy Grail of Neotropical birding on Dec 31st. We almost jumped out of the canoe in excitement!!!

Image

Chris


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 9th, 2012, 8:48 am 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 2614
Location: Ventura, CA
WOW, hearty congrats on the Harpy! Look at the paws on that thing. :shock: Great looks too ...that'll be lifetime memory for sure.


Top
 Profile WWW 
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 10th, 2012, 3:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:50 pm
Posts: 165
Location: onslow co NC
I haven't frequented the forums much this year do to birding, I got into it last year and being that I'm in ny and seen most of the herptofauna, I figured I would take the year off and start birding. Well I can tell you it isn't going to be a year thing its a new passion and great way to get out doors.
Wayne


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 10th, 2012, 3:59 pm 

Joined: October 28th, 2010, 3:26 pm
Posts: 364
:x Jealous of that Harpy siting.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 10th, 2012, 4:46 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:08 pm
Posts: 542
Location: Montana
chrish wrote:
You can also "graduate" to different levels of birding. You can decide to learn to identify birds by their calls,

Very good points Chris, and this above quoted point really amazed me when I was w/ a true birder and he could name the bird by its call, completely blew me away the first time I went birding w/ him, I'd never considered the idea that a person could identify so many birds by their calls.

Nice job on the Harpy Eagle, and the photo too. I saw one in the Amazon basin once, and only once. This was before I carried a camera and wish I didn't have to commit the event to memory.

-Dell


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: How'd you get into it?
PostPosted: January 16th, 2012, 11:29 pm 
User avatar

Joined: August 24th, 2010, 8:34 pm
Posts: 260
Location: Los Angeles County
In an effort not to be redundant here. I was lucky enough to grow up the son-of-herper/nature lover. As I'm sure with many of you, if it moved, I'd try to keep it as a pet.... Though by the age of of 8 I could ID a number of the regular birds I'd see hiking or camping, it wasn't until college that I met some like minded lunatics that helped cultivate my birding passion.

One of the things that I love about birding is that you never really know what you're going to see. When I'm out herping, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to find or at least what is in the area and should be found. The same can be said for birding, but the opportunity to see something totally out of place is always a possability. Herps tend not to show up 3,000 miles from where they should be. Being the first, or one of a very few to see a species never seen in the US before has a certain adrenaline boosting allure. Most of the NA warblers lifers on my list were seen for the first time in CA. I had to go to Florida to see an Indigo, Tennesee to se a DOR timber rattlesnake, and despite many searches I'm still copperheadless. :x

I've been lucky enough to go to some amazing places on trips, some for herps and birds and some just for birds. I saw about 380 species of birds on a trip to Venezuela, but only about 20 or so herps :roll: . The herps I saw were great, but seeing all those birds was amazing. Birding certainly can be a completely different type of outdoor experience from herping, and I've met many more unfriendly birders than herpers, but every pastime has it's unfriendly types. Though it's kinda like compairing apples and tomatoes, birders are much more likely to share their favorite spot and even take you to it to help you find what you're looking for.

If nothing else I get a certain amount of pride from knowing what bird is eating what herp in what kind of tree, or what herp is eating what bird in what shrub.

Herp, bird, plant, fish, geology, weather geek
- nightdriver


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: