I posted this on Facebook and Twitter, but I’m going to add it here as well. There was a segment on the Katie Couric news show about the Great Texas Birding Classic and while I think it’s awesome that birders were in the news and equally awesome that most of those birders were wearing Swarovski. However, I did see something troubling.
Birders (or bird watchers if you prefer), for the love of Pete, when a news camera is on you: DO NOT IMITATE BIRD CALLS. No one wins when that happens. I’m sure your black rail call is awesome and brings all the rails to the yard, but really, it will not help bring more people to the fold. I can’t think of one non birding person who would see that and think, “Yes, that rocks, I don’t know what birding is, but I’m going to do it right now!”
I think young kids will watch that and think, “Holy crap, is that the sort of people who are outside in the woods? I’m staying in with my video games where it’s safe.”
I get asked to bird calls by the media and I refrain, it’s easy to do. Really, you can say, “no.” You can tell they think they will get the funny sideshow factor in their segment by asking you to do it and I’ve seen more than one reporter aghast at my refusal but then you see something in their eyes, perhaps something new–respect. I kindly offer to do bird calls with my iPod Touch, but I refuse to do it with my lips (okay, maybe I’ve whistled the two note black-capped chickadee call, but that’s it–I’ll give you a pass on a chickadee–but no soras, no blackbirds, please for the sake of humanity, don’t do a puffin).
So, please. If we want to keep birding (according to Katie) the second most popular hobby, stop doing bird calls on tv and the news!