I have been party to a lot of discussion online and in meetings about what women birders doing. Part of this is because women are 50% (at least) of the birding population in the US and hard to find in Europe. My thinking is that generally women enjoy birds differently than men but some of my female birding friends are hardcore listers and bristle at the notion that women aren't as competitive as men, most of the women I know are very casual as far as their interest in listing goes. There seems to be a mixture of enjoyment from photography, art, socialization and balancing life and birding.
I think over the years, I have discovered that there are things I enjoy about birding and things I do not. Competitive listing (apart form an informal apartment list I keep in my fridge) is not for me. I think it's because I see the impossibility of trying to see every single species on Earth, not only the logisitics and money involved with travel but also how species are discovered or lumped and split I don't want to take a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand, get every bird there and then five years later learn some species was split into five based on DNA and chip notes and there are three birds I still need. I don't want that to ruin the fact that I went to freakin' New Zealand.
One form of birding (and listing, I suppose) that I've discovered I love is patch birding. I think it's from doing so many point counts for work. Monitoring one place over several weeks at various times of the day and discovering shifts in seasonal movement or how resident birds act throughout the day is very satisfying to me. It doesn't matter that I don't get a new species, but if I get a new to me behavior or learn distinguish new calls, it's incredibly very rewarding--like the day I realized the difference in sound between a western meadowlark flight call vs an eastern meadowlark flight call.
Even if I'm not doing surveys for work, I love every opportunity I have for birding a new area either in the US or around the world. I don't necessarily enjoy it when a tourism board wants me up early for ten days in a row, but I also realize that when life hands you opportunity, grasp it with both hands and sleep later.
I enjoy scanning a field guide and seeing what are iconic birds of an area and what bird looks really cool to me and target for that--like a shoebill or toucan or the above crimson-backed tanager--is that not a dynamite bird worth a plane ticket or what? Best part was that this was one of the first birds that I got when I visited Panama a few years ago. I had a late flight and slept in a bit the next morning to find a little coffee, bacon and papaya waiting for me on the deck. I sat on the comfy outdoor chairs and soaked in the rainbow of colors at the feeders. I ticked off several iconic birds: honey greepers, tanagers, saltators all over some coffee and bacon. That is my kind of birding.
What I do not enjoy is hunting down every single possible bird in an area for the sake of having a larger list, especially if all the birds look the same (like the above warblers). Not that I'm dissing brown and gray birds--Non Birding Bill can attest to how much I love them. But I don't want to spend over an hour playing calls, pishing or whatever to get some skulky species that looks like five other birds while there are scenic vistas to enjoy and less skulky and more charismatic birds out there. Also, if a bird is being that skulky, we're stressing it at that point, let's leave it alone.
Another thing I enjoy is playing around with digiscoping. A bird in lovely evening light like an organge-chinned parakeet nomming down on a flower is just too cool. A fun souvenir from travel.
I also enjoy quiet moments like standing barefoot on the top of Canopy Tower listening to tinamous and collared forest-falcons call as a bat falcon hawks for insects overhead while I sip a gin and tonic (I know, I know I normally drink whiskey but in warm weather I do enjoy a little bit of gin).
And as much as I enjoy some of the trips I take to see a showcase of their birding offerings, I don't relish 4:30 - 5am start times for ten days. A few is ok, but man oh man, do I enjoy a day where I can sleep in til 7am and still see some cool stuff.
Does this sound appealing and like your kind of birding? Consider coming with me to Panama this fall. We'll catch the fall raptor migration, we'll drink, we'll get up at reasonable hours, we'll laugh, take some great pictures of cool birds with our smartphone so we can text them to friends who are at their desks and even work in time for a few naps. You will come back from this birding adventure vacation without feeling like you need another vacation.
Canopy Lodge and Tower are two of the best birding destinations I have ever been to. As soon as you land, the guides take care of transportation and our meals as well as our birding needs. We will have a blast and a trip of a lifetime.