Birders’ behavior can be almost as interesting as bird behavior.
Definitely, birders have their own stamp of individuality when it comes to interacting with others of their kind.
Some generalities can be made, however.
The number one characteristic is rudeness. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I’ve known some really rude birders and I’m one of them!
The problem has its root in a birder’s desire to observe birds — above all else. In their single-mindedness, they can absolutely ignore social conventions.
For example, a large group of birders is waiting around for a rarity to appear. I’ve witnessed this so many times: a birder walks up — curtly addresses somebody in the group with,
“Was it still only last seen at first light?”
A murmured answer to the affirmative by the person standing nearby brings out sighs of frustration in the new arrival.
But does he (or she) say hi to anybody else in the group? No. Does he introduce himself? No. Does he smile cheerfully at the prospect of a long and perhaps fruitless wait? No.
This birder will set up his scope, start checking his iphone, and may never utter another word until the bird is spotted, usually by someone else, at which point he or she becomes almost voluble with “so what’s going on with the scaps?”, or “but look at the primary extension!”
Very bad form to show too much enthusiasm. OK. That I can live with.
But rudeness to other birders in the form of not introducing oneself or one’s companions, or in the form of only acknowledging the “top birders” in the assembled group — I’ve seen it all too often.
One of the most egregious examples of birding rudeness was when yours truly left a sit down dinner party at my host’s house to chase a bird with a man I’d never met before!
I was in Montana with our friends who have a house near Missoula, and the guy who ran the Montana State birding hotline offered to take me to see a Boreal Owl.
Life bird! Rude behavior alert!
I left my husband and my kind hosts in the lurch, drove an hour and a half down the Bitterroot Valley, and finally arrived at ~8000 foot Chief Joseph Pass. Here, where an old nest box had been set up years ago, a female Boreal Owl was our goal.
Scaling a snow pack that was 8 feet high beside the highway, I and my companion, Terry Toppins, saw this gorgeous owl as she perched before her nightly foraging flight.
Was I rude? Of course!
Would I do it again? Of course!
So you see that birders are very odd indeed: not only can they be rude, but they show little remorse.
I guess those are just characteristics of the species……