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BOB'S BLOG: Birding is a good walk perfected

By Bob Wood
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May 26, 2014 - 0 comments

It has been said that golf is a good walk spoiled.

But birding is “a good walk perfected.”  That was the message Jeff Gordon brought recently  evening to a large group of outdoor enthusiasts at Bird Studies Canada’s (BSC) National Office in Port Rowan just about 400 metres from my residence.

Yes, we have a National Office in Port Rowan. And Gordon, a celebrity in the birding world, was a most able and appropriate speaker as spring migration is ramping up here on Ontario’s South Coast.

Gordon heads up the American Birding Association (ABA), a non-profit organization that provides leadership to North America birders and also contributes to bird and bird habitat conservation through its programs. 

He was in town to participate as the Celebrity Birder in the annual Baillie Birdathon as well as to speak at this special event billed as a Celebration of Birding.

Gordon is passionate about birding and birds.  He worries, though, that birders need to open up to others who may be interested in nature and the outdoors but are intimidated by the vast knowledge many experienced birders present.  Birders need to be “evangelists” about their hobby and help “break down barriers” for newcomers, he says.

Gordon’s presentation included plenty of action shots of birders from around North America including Alvaro Jaramillo. (Jaramillo coined the “good walk perfected” line.)  The ABA head takes these types of pictures because birders are good at taking photos of warblers and eagles and the like but not so good at taking pictures of people enjoying birds.  More images that capture the “grandeur of birding” are needed.

Earlier in the day, local ornithologist Tim Lucas found a rare Kirtland’s Warbler near the entrance to the new Long Point Provincial Park.  This is considered North America’s rarest warbler and is normally found only in a small area in the north central part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula during breeding season.

Gordon and a dozen or so others were there.  He captured the excitement on his smart phone and shared the footage in the evening presentation thereby reinforcing his key message.

I think Gordon made his point well that night.  The next day another relatively rare bird was located in the area and birders were notified on Twitter.  For many people they were seeing a Bell’s Vireo for the first time.

In fact, Twitter is a wonderful medium for birders to communicate their finds. Jody Allair, @JodyAllair, is a local birder with lots of great finds. 

Bob Wood is a housing and poverty advocate and former two-term Burlington City Councillor who has built a bed-and-breakfast with his wife on Lake Erie. 

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