I had a very strange thing happen to me today. I have a birding friend on twitter who is setting up a birding blogs list: think Alltop for birders. He is a member of a forum that I participate in and he invited members of that group to submit their blogs to this list.
Now you all know that I am a very avid birder, and it was a bird who altered the course of my life’s work to begin teaching people to create welcoming habitat for birds and other wildlife in their gardens.
You all know that because habitat destruction is the number one cause of the decline in wildlife populations that I am devoted to giving a little back to birds and other wildlife.
You may even have noticed that I mention birds and creating bird habitat in almost every post I’ve written at this site. I’m a birder, you all know that.
But apparently, creating bird habitat in our gardens does not qualify as a “birding” blog, even though one of the categories for birding blogs on this new list is “Feeding Birds.”
Now bird feeders are a lovely way to entice our avian friends to come closer so that we can enjoy them. It’s more of a benefit to humans than it really is for the birds. Wildlife gardeners go far beyond bird feeders and work incredibly hard to create habitat in their gardens that will provide all of a birds needs.
But, since I don’t limit myself to writing solely about bird feeders, this blog is not welcome on the birding blogs list. But if I only wrote about bird feeders I’d be more than welcome. Sad, isn’t it? And more than a little short-sighted, too!
Now I’ll be honest. I have at various points in my life dropped everything including my paid work to rush to a spot where a rare bird had been sighted. That’s a real birder.
I own expensive binoculars and a spotting scope. That’s a real birder.
I have taken amazing vacations in far away places just to see new birds. That’s a real birder.
I keep a bird list. In fact I keep several: a backyard list, state lists for every state I’ve visited, a North American list, a World list, monthly lists, yearly lists. Real birders are all about that list.
But tell me. Can you name just one thing that this “Real Birder” behavior is doing to create, protect, or preserve habitat for birds and other wildlife? Probably not.
Wildlife gardeners on the other hand devote incredible amounts of time to creating habitat for birds and other wildlife in their gardens. Most of us also are quite passionate volunteers at our local nature centers, schools, parks and other natural areas, working hour after hour to protect these places and create more habitat for birds. Many of us work tirelessly with children to teach them about nature and the wildlife that lives in our own backyards.
We realize that if we want to continue to add to our bird lists, these very birds must have appropriate habitat. The habitat is the ultimate issue here. No habitat = No Birds for the “Real Birders” to check off their lists.
To be honest, I’m way more excited that the Screech Owls are nesting near my house, the Carolina Wrens had a very successful year last year, I had nesting Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied Woodpeckers as well as Flickers in my wildlife garden last year. And I had many other huge successes for birds and other wildlife, too.
I am much more gratified that I actually did something that contributed to bird survival than I am about checking off another bird on my list.
Am I angry that the “Real Birder” told me I am not welcome to play in his sandbox? No. But I have to say that such behavior saddens me a lot. You might think that people who care about birds and wildlife would also care about creating habitat for them. Apparently not.
I am giving back. Are you?
[Update: I am very happy to report that this situation has been resolved ]