Date: 9/24/18 8:48 pm
From: Lars Norgren <larspernorgren...>
Subject: [obol] Not a "birder" anymore, thank god
I well recall the first time I heard the expression "birding", indeed in
the early 70s when I was about 14 years old. A dude named Vaughn Morrison
was giving the address of The American Birding Association to Fred Ramsey
in front of the original HQs(FailingCottage)to Finley NWR. And I also
recall someone explaining, in print, quite succinctly that "birdwatching"
had pejorative connotations.
But the word is centuries old, old as modern English itself, and
very well attested. Until sometime in the 19th Century "birding" referred
exclusively to the act of capturing birds, usually with bird lime(glue),
for the purpose of eating, or selling to other folks that planned to eat
them. Then along came Florence Merriam Bailey and wrote "A-Birding on a
Bronco". She had already written "Birds Through an Opera Glass". This was
the world's first field guide to birds, and I have always taken the title
as a hint that ornithologists should leave their shotguns at home
sometimes. That band of gun totin' yahoos, the AOU, didn't take offense.
They made her a member. The first woman in the AOU, and I fear the only one
for a few more decades. She was instrumental in getting the Lacey Act
passed, and much more conservation.
While it's easy to get a good dose of self-righteous jollies from
berating those who chase rarities and/or amass lengthy year lists, life
lists,ad nauseam, the carbon footprint of such activity is a pee-hole in
the snow compared to all the twenty minute showers people take when two
minutes would get them just as clean. All that "clean" salmon-killing
hydropower only supplies Oregonians with half our electricity nowadays,
while the rest comes from coal or gas. My high school physics teacher had
one quotation on his office wall:"For every complex problem there is a
simple solution. And it's wrong."
I don't have Oxford English Dictionary handy, but I think there
may be an attestation for "birding" in Chaucer. Perhaps a different
spelling, certainly a different pronounciation, but that would take this
hot button word back to Middle English. I'll bet there's OED on-line. I
encourage the tech-savvy to confirm or discard my idle speculation.

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