We live in an electronic age. No doubt about it. Computers, smartphones, notebooks, tablets – all these electronic devices accompany us no matter where we go – home, work, school, or during our leisure time activities.
Think about it – how often to you go to dinner now and see a couple texting on their smartphones instead of talking with each other?
As a birder, I know that smartphones have become, for some, as indispensible as binoculars. And why not? Instant access to the most up-to-date information for birds throughout the state – or world!
Instant reporting of potentially great birds from the field!
Reports of birds that, only a few years ago, would have taken weeks to filter out to the birding world are now available instantly. With a few clicks of the thumb, a birder can alert the whole community of the presence of a potentially spectacular find.
Extremely powerful tools.
But with great power comes great expectations and, for some, the demand for instant gratification. There is a segment of the birding world for whom chasing these reports of “great” birds has become a way of life. Their enjoyment of the hobby hinges on the next report – grab your bins, your scope, your smartphone, and scramble to the location to get that bird!
And what of the persons who have this GREAT find? Well, apparently the expectations for them is changing as well. And it is time for the rest of us to decide at what level we’ll agree to play along.
So – what are your expectations?
Is there a “code of birding protocols” for the electronic age?
Should there be?
I am struggling with the answers to many of these questions (and more). A smartphone was in my hand when I, along with two other birders, spotted and identified (with multiple paper guides and, you guessed it, a smartphone application) what we believed was an outstanding bird.
Someone said – “we need to report this to ********** (the local birding listserv)”!
No problem. A couple clicks of the thumb and away it goes.
The debate that has raged since that seemingly simple act is unlike any other I have ever experienced and has changed the way I will approach birding for the rest of my life.
I have no doubt that we saw the bird and identified to the best of our collective abilities.
I have every doubt that I will ever reach for my smartphone again.
What are your expectations for reporting “great birds”?
What would you do if you found a rare bird?
What would you expect if you got the report of a rare bird?
And what would be YOUR reaction if the bird wasn’t there when you arrived?