Feb 23 2008
A friend and I were musing about the late 1980’s. My goodness, how birding has changed in the last twenty years!
Back then binoculars, a field guide and the rare bird hotline were our suite of tools. I had a computer then (it’s my job) but Internet connections were so expensive that the software company I worked for didn’t have one.
Communication used to take a while. A rare bird could come and go and only one person would ever know it was there. If you wanted to tell someone, you had to drive to the nearest pay phone. Now most birders have cell phones and those who search for rarities are in constant touch.
Other than my binoculars, the Internet is my favorite birding tool. Email lists have replaced the telephone hotlines and Google enhances our field guides with easy access to bird identification websites.
It is so easy to find information on the Internet that you hardly have to own a book about birds, though I am such a book lover I still want to own them all.
Photography has changed birding dramatically. Before the days of affordable digital cameras, it was expensive to develop film, it took an expert to edit the results and sharp details could only be achieved with high-powered lenses. Digital photography has changed all that. Photo sharing websites give everyone access to thousands of excellent pictures.
In the midst of all this change there is one constant: friends. The Internet has helped this too. Online I’ve met birders from around the state and around the world. At birding hotspots we meet in person, happy to put a face to the names we know so well.
It is so satisfying to share a bird moment with friends – our sightings and knowledge, disappointments and joys. That’s why I enjoy writing this blog.
All in all I think birding has improved considerably.