25 Things that Changed Birding (Recently)

Hello all, NBB here. This week has been hecka crazy, as I'm doing a show in the Minnesota Fringe Festival (which Sharon is acting in) and Shaz is running around doing early morning bird surveys. But I wanted to take a moment to engage in a little husbandly bragging because of this blog post from the American Birding Association blog: "25 Things that Changed Birding (Recently)" by Ted Floyd.

The piece talks a lot about how technology (digital photography) and social media (Facebook and Twitter) are changing the way birders connect and share information, but it also singles out a few people, including, as you might guess, my wife.

14. BirdChick. Think of a really famous birder. Then Google that person’s name and the word “birding.” Next, Google “BirdChick + Birding.” Note to purists, traditionalists, and any other holdouts in the Old Boys’ Club: Google doesn’t lie. BirdChick has “arrived.” Birding has changed.

I believe this is about more than Sharon being a woman (SPOILER ALERT: she is!), or the way she embraces new technology, but also about her personal style of birding. She's a hard core birder, who can speak about things like "primary projection" and is very interested—excuse me, "unhealthily obsessed"—with things like aging and sexing a bird by its plumage while she's banding them, but she also gets the other part of birding, which is being really, really excited about birds and passing that excitement along to others, especially kids and other who want to learn more about nature.

In my plays I make fun of geek culture a lot, because, well, that's who I am. The bit that I return to is that Geeks Ruin Their Own Fun. They get narrow-minded about whatever their topic is, forgetting what made them love it in the first place. It becomes about posturing, and proving you know more than anyone else becomes the focus, rather than having a good time.

Sharon has never lost that sense of wonder. Being outside in nature is still her way of relaxing, and I still see her be stunned into silence as she watches a bird do some behavior that she's seen a thousand times before. But more than that, when she sees it, she'll grab my arm, point it out, then explain why this goofy little brown bird is so fascinating to her. And then it becomes fascinating to me.