Could I have been an ornithologist?

Would you still be my friend if I became a bird watcher?

Maybe a hobby I should refrain from picking up for at least 30 years?

When I was in Florida this weekend I noticed a lot of interesting birds. I was especially intrigued by the huge cranes I saw, just hanging out on the side of the road next to the many, many lakes. I also took a notice to a lot of unique ducks.

When I was on the plane coming back home I wondered how much bird diversity there really is in Florida. So I looked it up and found out that it has the 6th highest bird species count in the country. Behind California, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Impressive! (Well my source is a little sketchy, so if there are any bird experts out there, please feel free to correct.)

Then I went back to one of the other Google results that came up that I noticed when I searched “states with most bird species.” (Always interesting to see what kind of different results Google gives you.) The result was an article with the headline: Nearly a third of U.S. bird species in trouble. So of course I read the article, given my new aviary interest, piqued at Lake Lily Park. The article is old (from 2009) but I figure it was probably highly syndicated and shared via social media (animal activists are particularly active social media users) and therefore still worth reading…

American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), very popular around Lake Lily Park (thanks for the ID Jack!)

Turns out the article was about a report released by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Probably important, right? Wildlife watching and recreation generates $122 billion annually. Who knew? Also, more bird species are vulnerable to extinction in Hawaii than anywhere else in the United States. What? But I love Hawaii! and their birds! Before humans arrived in the Hawaiian islands, there were 113 bird species that occurred nowhere else on Earth. Since humans arrived, 71 species have gone extinct and 31 more are listed as threatened or endangered. What! Extinct? That’s horrible. This is a problem! Ok so now my interest is piqued in bird conservation…!

Hmm.

Birds might be more interesting than we think. There are more than 800 bird species in the United States. I wonder if there is a club for people that have spotted all 800+?

What do you think? Should I embrace my inner bird nerd?

3 responses to “Could I have been an ornithologist?

  1. You run the risk of being snubbed at cocktail parties in favor of fancier nerds, like pathologists and climatologists – or trendier ones like mixologists and sexologists.

  2. go for it. it sounds like a great hobby.

  3. I got so excited when I saw a lone flamingo flying in the sky when I was driving back to Ft. Lauderdale from Key West – it was the first time I had seen one outside of a zoo and it was magnificent!

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