When my BFF Linda and I attended our very first Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, we had an experience that was very frustrating to “new birders” .
We were up early, so excited about this new hobby we had discovered, leaving the house while still dark, to drive 20+ miles to the convention center to board the bus for our very first birding adventure. We packed snacks, water and were draped in the paraphernalia that we felt was necessary for us to have on our first outing….cameras, binoculars, birding vest, birding books….a very long list of “things”.
We followed along behind our birding expert guides, listening intently to their every word and quickly scanning the bushes, trees and skies for the birds that they spotted or heard. Frequently we were unable to understand the names of some of the birds they were sighting. One particular experience led us to loudly complain to our leaders. Everyone kept shouting “there’s a Sharpie”. A what???? Excited isn’t quite the word to describe the atmosphere surrounding this “Sharpie”. Linda and I were frantically checking the index in our birding books trying to find a “Sharpie”. When we finally asked our guides just what a “Sharpie” was, they said “Oh, that’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We just call them Sharpies”
We exploded with….”How in the world is a new birder suppose to know this?” The lesson learned for future trips that may include new birders….Avoid nicknames, use the correct name of the bird and then follow with what their nickname might be!
Happy bird searching!!!