A Guide to Finding other "Birders"
From out of town, out of province, or new to bird-watching?
To maximize your birding success, think about connecting with a local birder or birding group!
How to meet your friendly neighbourhood BC birder
- Many local birder's read and participate in the online birding chat groups for British Columbia, both in the Birding BC forum and Yahoo Groups (See "News Postings" on this site for Yahoo groups info). POST a message in these groups to announce that you are looking to find a birder!
- Check out local Naturalist Groups as many host a number of regular field trips. Both Victoria and Vancouver Natural History Societies publish a field trip calendar on their web sites and visiting birder's are usually welcome to join in. (Please contact the field trip leader first to make sure you are welcome to participate). As well, some nature supply stores such as Nanaimo's Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store may schedule regular birding walks. Contact a local store in your area to find out.
Rick Shortinghuis—Knowledgeable Victoria based birder who is active in the Victoria Natural History Society and Rocky Point Bird Observatory, seen here birding on Mt. Tolmie.
- Contact nature centers located at your destination to find out if they are offering walks or outings. Here in Victoria, Swan Lake Nature Center offers a weekly birding walk. Goldstream Provincial Park is another source for birding and interpretive walks. On the mainland, you can bet something is happening at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Do a bit of research and you will likely be rewarded with a unique outing.
- Visit known good birding locations in your area or destination during a prime birding time (9:00 am on weekends are when most birder's are active) with the goal to meet a knowledgeable birder out in the field. A pair of binocular's or a scope are the tell-tale field marks for a birder. Most knowledgeable birders can be found frequenting quiet paths or overlooks peering up into a tree or out across a body of water. When you get close, you can often further identify a birder by his/her vocalizations often described as "hi there, seen anything' or 'morning, did you see the [bird] today' or on rare bird occasions, 'there's a [bird] over by the [location]' (often accompanied with a smile.) Many birder's enjoy company out in the field as two pairs of binoculars are better then one! Approach quietly, so as not to spook what they may be observing, greet them with a friendly 'hello'.
- Contact a birder on a directory of birders . New on the Web is a service called Birding Pals. I would like to here some feedback from this service but it may be another way to find a birder in your home town or at your destination.
- Search for Birding Tours and Guides that are for hire. Dedicated birding guides may be your ticket to finding your target species. The advantage of using a birding guide is that he/she is there to do a job for you—to get you to your birds as well as provide you with all the knowledge about them (and maybe a hot lunch to boot!). If they are good, and most are, you will be in for a real treat! Check references and gauge community participation (hint: do they chat with other birders or do something that is birding related) as this will help you find the better guides.
Good luck in your search for a local birder!
Article by K. Slagboom
October 07, 2004