Thursday, January 26, 2006

Post of the year from one of the Florida birding lists.

I know it's still January, but last week I saw a very strong contender for "post of the year" from one of the Florida birding lists. Someone had posted about four American Coots in a local pond, complete with precise directions to the pond. Now, trust me when I tell you that American Coots are pretty darn common in Florida this time of year, I probably saw more than 10,000 in a single day on my last trip there. Wes Biggs, a well-known birder who is probably known to many of the readers of this blog, posted the following response:

I know as I write this that some people will criticize me for asking the following question, but I think it quite probable that at least as many want to ask it as well, so here goes........... Who in North America who has been a birder for any time over a week could possibly care about this sighting? Just wondering.

OK, so Wes' post was rude, condescending, and an example of how *not* to treat new birders. But it was also brilliant, and I'm ashamed to admit that I loved every word of it! Every time I read a post from someone in Illinois about the four Cardinals in their backyard, I'll think of Wes' post and smile...

4 comments:

Mike's Soap Box said...

Sounds like Wess and me could be good friends!

Clare said...

I suppose the answer to his question "who could possibly care" is obviously the person who posted the sighting. Someone who may see the American Coots as something more than a tick on a list, and someone who may have wanted to share enthusiacally in an activity that they are starting out in. Probably as good of an example of a reason to avoid established organizations when persuing a new interest as I can think of.

Good old elitism, nothing better to kill enthusiasm.

Eric said...

Brilliant, if only in a street-theater kind of way. If the post is in earnest, it's not so much brilliant as it is definitively passive-aggressive.

Patrick Belardo said...

As an experienced birder, I would probably think the same thing in the back of my mind. BUT... Wes needs to realize that birding lists cater to various levels of birders. If I was a beginning birder, I might be interested in seeing these Coots. Responses like Wes's make mailing lists a scary place for newcomers and can instantly discourage someone. I feel that birders are ambassadors for the environment and it's our job to encourage other birders who will in turn do the same for others. We shouldn't be applauding his efforts.