Why Do We Go Birding?
Adapted from a talk given by Don Messersmith, Guest of Honor at the 2013 Montgomery Bird Club Social.
Why do we go birding? We don’t bring back anything tangible. Like antiques. Maybe photographs.
We don’t earn any money.
We’re not forced to do it.
We don’t win prizes like in a contest.
We don’t become celebrities.
We don’t end up with a political office.
We don’t care if others are better at it than we are.
Our doctor hasn’t told us “Go birding!”
Usually our spouse hasn’t told us to get out of the house!
Our dog or cat (or spouse) doesn’t constantly growl at us.
We’re not eccentric or weird (at least not completely).
We’re not escaping from the law (I hope)!
We don’t have health problems (maybe a mental aberration) that are worse indoors than outdoors.
In my own case, here are some reasons I go birding, and I’ve been doing it for over 70 years:
I like to be outdoors.
At the present time I want to get out of our apartment as much as possible which has so many memories of Sherry that bring tears. And birding is healing. Several birding friends, mostly former students, have invited me to go birding with them.
To me birding is a constant learning process and, as a teacher, I believe that learning is very important.
It is good exercise which I don’t get enough of. The Riderwood Fitness Center is excellent but boring to me.
I like the challenge and the unexpected experiences of seeing a bird in an unexpected place or doing something I haven’t seen before or out of season or new for my list—state, U.S., world, or best of all Life List. Yes, I’m a lister and proud of it!
I like the people I go with, and although I do some birding alone, I run into other birders, and it doesn’t matter if I know them or not, there is almost always an exchange of sightings.
It’s fun (most of the time) except for rain, snow, cold, heat, mud, insects, sunburn, exhaustion, rabid raccoons, barking dogs, angry property owners when (God forbid) we trespass, falling in holes while looking up at a bird, falling into a lake or stream, dropping your camera in the water, getting robbed in some remote place, poison ivy, chiggers, ticks, temporary blindness caused by following a flying bird that crosses the sun, getting lost, getting chased by sundry wild animals … and so on.
I love to travel and seeking birds adds an extra great dimension to my travels.
Photography is one of my hobbies and birds make wonderful subjects.
Birds are so free and beautiful, and so seeing them in the wild is very satisfying.
So, we’re among the luckiest people in the world, and we have the birds to thank for this!
Montgomery County Birder's Guide Reviews
A New Second Edition Guide has been published and is now available for purchase
The ANS Naturalist News (December - January issue) gave high praise to the first edition of the guide. "Both ‘old hands’ and...new...are going to find this storehouse of information infinitely helpful in uncovering the rich parklands and birding resources of Montgomery County. Actually, it ought to have much wider appeal and exposure than to just the birding community."
"The Birder's Guide just arrived today ! It's beautiful and thorough and incredibly well done, overall. You guys should be proud. No surprise why it's selling so well. I've learned so much already just by leafing through. Michael O'Brien's drawings are beautiful and the layout's great. A triumph! as the reviewers should say. Thanks so much for sending the book and having it signed by fellow MOSers. It really, really makes me homesick and longing to explore new local birding haunts..." - from an e-mail received from Spain...
The Second Edition contains several new birding areas including Blue Mash, Germantown Recreation Park and Lois Green Conservation Area.
A complete update of all Sections as well as some new 'Little Treasures' have been included. All maps have been checked and updated. The bird species accounts and checklist for the County have been modified to reflect the changes over the past several years.
"We received the books yesterday, Howard. Thanks for sending them so promptly. You all did a fantastic job on this book! It looks great. I've updated the ABA website with a description of the current edition. Please share my enthusiasm with the other folks who worked on this edition. Best regards, Charlotte Goedsche of the American Birding Association."
The Guide may be ordered from Howard Lefkowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org. It may be picked up at MBC meetings or mailed to you for a charge of $3.00. The cost of the Guide varies depending on membership in MBC.