Just got back from our little trip, perfectly timed to miss goodies back in the Chicago area such as Townsend's Warbler, Mississippi Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, and who knows what else.
So we were catching up on our e-mail, checking the latest messages from our local listserve, when we found a couple more difficult identification problems posed by some newbie birders. Not this again. In the last week, different birders have posted photos of the following "mystery birds" that they could not identify: male Bobolink; male Common Yellowthroat; female House Sparrow; and, yes, wait for it, male Mallard. Seriously.
We love new birders, and we try to help them all we can, but c'mon, you are a complete and total moron if you can't identify a male Bobolink perched in the middle of a meadow. There's nothing *even close to that* that isn't a Bobolink in your bird book, not even in that cheapie field guide to North American birds we saw a few years that was produced in China. Just taking pictures of random birds and then asking other people to identify them while sitting in front of the computer is *not* birding. It's not even birdwatching. It's a waste of time, and it is extremely annoying. If you've got your Sibley's or Peterson's in front of you, or even an old Golden Guide, and you can't identify a male Mallard, there's no hope. Just give up and donate your equipment to Birder's Exchange.
The problem (besides the fact that you don't learn anything when other people identify your birds for you) is that these kind of pointless questions are driving a lot of experienced birders away from reading and posting to their local or state listserves. There are probably eight bird clubs in the Chicago area, and probably every single one of them has a field trip somewhere this weekend.
So if you're a new birder, turn off the computer, leave your camera at home, and GET OFF YOUR ASS and start identifying birds WHILE YOU ARE IN THE FIELD instead of while you're in front of the computer.