I have led hundreds of bird walks.
It’s rewarding to me to tell people about birds, how to identify them and some
interesting life stories about them. It’s a real pleasure to see kids get a
kick out of identifying birds because it gives me hope that they might become
adults who see the importance of protecting habitat and wildlife.
of conditions, including howling winds, rain storms and blisteringly hot
weather. Invariably, the participants still enjoy the time outdoors. Once I met
a bus full of senior citizens at the Gray Lodge Waterfowl Refuge on a very
stormy, rainy day. I boarded the bus with a few waterlogged students who had
been out with me in the morning and we reveled in the warm dry air in the bus.
But I began to wonder how interested the passengers were in birdwatching as we
drove around the viewing route. The mature riders were dressed in their Sunday
finest – women in dresses and heels and men in leisure suits. The windows were
all fogged up, and it appeared that the only bird many of them were interested
in was a bottle of Wild Turkey being passed around. But they had fun. On the
other hand, I have led a similar bus trip to a couple of refuges the last
several years for Elderhostel (now called Roads’ Scholar) and the passengers
were ever so delightful, interested in birds, and interesting themselves. It’s
truly a treat to see how people in their very mature years are so motivated to
learn new things, like birding.
Since the publication of our book, The Birds of Bidwell Park, we have led
numerous walks through various areas of the park. Again, delightful folks
accompany us on these jaunts. But I am truly surprised at the number of folks
who show up without binoculars. I try to make that clear in advance, but at least
half lack them. It’s really difficult to point out birds to anyone without binoculars.
You can pay a wide range of prices for binoculars, but you can get a decent
pair for under $50 and even usable new ones for under $25. It’s not as if
binoculars are a specialty item only for birdwatching; obviously they can be
used at sporting events, traveling, concerts, camping, stargazing, hunting, and
so on. Get a pair. I recommend either 7×35 or 8×42.
have used, damaged, destroyed, lost, and otherwise abused several pairs of
binoculars. (I discovered that they slide off of car roofs and sink beneath
water rather easily.) But I decided it was time to get a special pair for
myself – image stabilizing binoculars. Riding in a car or boat or train doesn’t
make for good birdwatching with binoculars; neither do shaky hands. Push a
button on these puppies, and the image settles
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