Do you remember back to before you were a birder? To before you were even a birdwatcher? Here I am with my sister on my way to grandma's house, feeding ducks at the city park in Bend, Oregon. I'm three years old. Not a birder. Not a birdwatcher. Let's call me a bird person. There might still have been hope for me back then. I probably liked my box of animal crackers as much as I liked the ducks--I actually probably thought more of the cookies!
Were you ever just a bird person? Did you like birds, but maybe didn't even think about them in any special way? You didn't try to identify them. You didn't make great efforts to watch them. But you liked them?
Did you go down to the local park to feed ducks?
If you did, you were a bird person. Actually, some folks would already call you a birder. When the 2001 U.S. Fish and Wildlife report on birding came out, it found 18 million Americans that year who had traveled a mile or more away from home to see birds and labeled them birders. What kinds of birds where they watching?
That's right, most of them were watching ducks and geese. Probably feeding them old bread, too!
But rather than call these folks birders, lets call them what they are. Regular folks who like to play with ducks. If they ever do more with birds, we might call that phase their protobirding phase. Someday. Meanwhile, we might call them bird people.
So when you see a line of geese headed through your neighborhood supermarket parking lot, like I did this afternoon, what do you think? Which of these are you?
Not a Bird Person: "Look at all those geese, somebody oughta get rid of them" Bird Person: "I should run home and get your old bread" Birdwatcher: "What are those geese doing?" Birder: "Look at those #$%!@ feral geese. Stupid trash birds"
Now ask yourself--of these four folks, who's enjoying birds the most?
Ah to be a regular bird person or at least a protobirder again!