Bare-Naked Big Day and Men Are Assholes

Recently the American Birding Association’s (ABA) Blog has had some interesting postings. The ABA is not noted for “green” birding but a recent post by Ted Floyd (editor of Birding) caught my attention. It’s titled, “Bare-Naked Big Walk”. Normally when the ABA’s Blog is about a “Big Day” it involves driving many miles (hundreds of miles) most likely in a low mileage van to find every bird they can. Ted Floyd’s “big day” is a big walk, 25 1/4 miles around Boulder, Colorado. The bare-naked part is that he did it without optics, no binoculars and no scope. He claims that his senses are heightened without them. He found 125 species. Now Ted doesn’t always play by the rules so he can count domestic fowl and Indian Peafowl but 125 species is a great total for a walk without optics. I wish I had his ear. I’ve been doing lot’s of walking but I don’t think I could do it bare-naked although maybe I should count how many times I use by binoculars when I’m out birding. The blog is here. The post was on 6/19/13 so you will have to scroll down or click on Ted Floyd’s name on the right to find it. Total comments for Ted’s post is 13. Green birding doesn’t get many comments. A post on using audio in the field will get you a long debate in it’s comments section.

Men are assholes is the topic of the other posting I want to mention. The title is, “Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling”. It’s by Brooke McDonald and I found it to be one of the most interesting posts I’ve read. Men are assholes is not really the subject of the post, I just like to write that in this blog. It might get me some blogging “street” cred. One of the women mentioned in the post actually used the phase and if you read some of the comments you might agree. The actual post is about not getting the credit they deserve in the birding world. I will quote some of the post.

Most birders are women. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2007 report, “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis,” 54% of birders are women. At the Space Coast Birding Festival in 2011, 69% of attendees were women; at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in 2010, 60-65% of attendees were women; and at The Biggest Week in American Birding, around 60% of attendees have been women. Tropical Birding estimates that two-thirds of their American clients are women, VENT estimates that 60% of their clients are women, and another leading tour company said that 54.6% of their clients booked for upcoming trips are women.”

However, by any measure, women are poorly represented in the upper ranks of birding. 

  • Women have 11.2% of the top ten eBird state lists for each U.S. state.
  • Women are 9.3% of all state bird records committee members—a number that drops to 7.8% if the committee secretaries are excluded.
  • There are eight women out of the American Birding Association’s top 100 ABA-area listers.
  • Women are 3.6% of California county big day record holders.
  • Finally, there has been only one woman out of the 35 current and former members of the American Birding Association’s Checklist Committee.”
Actually I’m glad to see that most women don’t spend their time doing the listing thing. A list is all about ego and the competitive urge.
Most of the women I spoke with said that some male birders either ignore women entirely or are crushingly dismissive, patronizing, or condescending towards them.
    “A lot of men just won’t take a woman seriously,” said Susan Myers. “I get it all the time—people walk right past me. I’m the only one carrying a scope and I’m standing out front calling the birds and I’m magically invisible.”

   ” One woman who wished to remain anonymous told me about a female friend of hers who had rediscovered a bird that had been presumed extinct. A meeting was held to discuss the status and conservation of the bird, and during this meeting, the woman in question was totally ignored—until one of the men asked her to make coffee.

    Sheri Williamson said that some men have displayed outright incredulity at the fact that she wrote a field guide. She went on to say, “It’s hard to get into a position of influence if you’re not accorded the respect you deserve.”

Birding can be a fraternity in the best or the worst sense of the word. One woman I spoke with seemed to accept as the natural order of things that there’s a “pecking order” in birding that men suffer under too, but most of the women I talked to maintained that women birders get the worst of it. There is a lot of cliquishness in birding, and while men who get into birding are often quickly accepted into the group, many women are treated as outsiders even after years of birding.

    There may be excellent women birders out there who have become so frustrated with the hazing and casual sexism that they have rejected the birding community entirely, and there may be many women who are overlooked in a birding culture that considers the size of one’s list as an important measure of one’s worth.”

I actually agree that there’s a “pecking order” in the birding world. Coming to Mendocino as a new birder in the area I felted that there was a clique of top birders and you had to prove yourself to them (the reason I carry a camera). You called them about a good bird, they didn’t call you. 

When I started birding in Southern California all the leaders and the positions of authority were men. When I moved to Butte County, CA it was the same thing. Things changed when I moved to Mendocino. One of the premier birding leaders here is a woman. I often felt that she was taking me along with her to provide protection when birding in unsavory places but I did learn about birding Mendocino from her. In my other birding endeavors, Snowy Plover monitoring and SOS, it is women who have the authority (over me and you know who you are). It seems that it’s the women who have a greater concern about what we are doing to this planet. I hope you read the full posting and it’s comments. It get lively at certain points. You can read it here. There were 110 comments to this post. I think a nerve was hit.




2 thoughts on “Bare-Naked Big Day and Men Are Assholes

  1. Into the Lion’s Den – greenbirdingmendo

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