Category: Links (Page 1 of 2)

NYT Surprised that Birding is Good for You

The New York Times is surprised that there are health benefits to birdwatching, an activity that includes all of the following:

  • time outside in nature
  • walking and hiking
  • learning a new vocabulary
  • learning new skills
  • introducing you to new people
  • taking you to new places

Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to have newspapers encouraging people to notice birds, to care that we conserve habitat for them, and to participate in Christmas Bird Counts. If it takes a health payoff for people to do any of those things, it can’t hurt to trumpet the benefits to the mind and soul of birdwatching. But what is surprising to me is that it is surprising to the New York Times that a hobby that gets people away from their screens and out walking around is good for you. I can’t wait for their next installment — the surprising social awkwardness of nerds who stare at the world through binoculars.

Even more perplexing was the caption to one of the photos in the article, which appears to understand a “big year” not as an attempt to see as many bird species as you can see in 12 months in a particular place (the universal definition of a “big year” for all birders), but as seeing 300 species or more in 12 months. That’s nice work, be the location the country, a state, a county, or a 5MR. But it’s not what birders mean when they say someone did a “big year.”





The Danger of Amusement Parks for Birds

Nervous excitement

The website for the SpringShot ride at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, New Jersey tells you to “Climb up. Strap in. Hold on as spring power and steel aircraft cables send you straight up into the air.” Left off from the last sentence, a young girl recently learned, was the phrase “and directly into the flight path of a seagull.”

Sudden apprehension as she spots potential trouble

Kiley Holman undoubtedly got closer to the birds than ever she expected when she and her friend were launched into the air on the ride. Just a second after the ride began, her path crossed with that of a seagull flying above.


Since every possible moment in time is a moment when one can be birding, we should pause to ID the innocent victim gull. Doing so turns out to be pretty easy. From the picture above, we see nearly all black primary tips, dark gray upper wings, a white bar on the trailing edge of the wing, and a white tail. The still below gives us a great look at the gull’s dark hood and white arc above the eye. Given the location, we can basically rule out Franklin’s Gull, and conclude that’s an irony-free Laughing Gull doing a face-plant on this girl at an amusement park. 

Laughing gull on the right, not laughing human on the left (laughing author of blogpost not pictured)

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