Beginner's Guide to Birding Terminology
Beginning birders face a challenge just learning the names and habits of birds. An even greater challenge is learning how to interpret many of the comments of other birders. The following is offered as a guide:
1. Statement: We got the bird. Translation - We saw the bird, and/or we added it to our life list. Interpretation - Birds are rarely received as gifts; statement may have another meaning at Thanksgiving, etc.
2. Statement: We saw some "good" birds. Translation - We saw some less commonly seen birds (usually). Interpretation - It is possible that birds actually have improved behavior as they get rarer.
3. Statement: We put the scope on the bird. Translation - We put the bird into the view of the spotting scope. Interpretation - The placement of scopes on birds has proven impractical to date. However, this technique may prove effective for skydivers and participants in other aerial sports to better view birds.
4. Statement: We will "catch" some birds. Translation - We will see some birds and/or add them to our life list. Interpretation - Catching of birds may be a good form of assuring positive identification. Check with your local fish and wildlife agency regarding laws for the use of traps.
5. Statement: I saw "Thayers" Translation - I saw a Thayer's gull (probably not a possession of Pete Thayer's or his software) Interpretation: It means you are not supposed to ask if it is a gull. Used by experienced birders to communicate with fellow birders who just need first names. Hint: they are talking about birds - sooner or later you will catch on.
6. Statement: There goes a "tree." Translation - There goes a tree swallow. Interpretation - Often used by an excited leader talking to a group of intermediate or experienced birders. May cause confusion as a person describes the movement of a large plant across an open sky.
7. Statement: I need a ______ bird. Translation - I would like to add ___ species to my daily/life list. Interpretation - It is possible that for some of the most serious birders that acquiring the bird is necessary for their very existence - a very unlikely condition for beginning birders.
-- by Frank Gray, Sacramento, CA
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