Monday, April 6, 2009

Birding Gear - It's What Makes Us Nerds

Everyone I know looks at me quizzically when I say that I am a birder. Birding is supposed to be the fastest growing hobby in the United States. A 2001 study by the United States Fish and Wildlife Association showed that there are more than 46 million birders in the U.S., more than the combined total of people who fish and hunt. Fifty-four percent of birders are female; 83% are over the age of 35; 93% are white; 60% are college-educated and more than 1/3 have annual incomes of $50,000 or more. Birders are responsible for $32 billion in retail sales of equipment (binoculars, scopes and cameras), clothing, journals, magazines, books, etc. So you'd think that we would get a little more respect, right?

Maybe it's because we often look like this:Here I am on my very first birding trip (see the smile? That's before the car sickness and the deer flies made me miserable!). Uncle Jim is teaching me how to use binoculars. He was worried about sunburn, so he lent me this hat. It worked like a charm. Kept me sunburn free, even though I looked quite silly. But you know what I remember about that hat? I saw my spark bird while wearing it. I saw a Prothonotary warbler and a painted bunting (two of my favorite birds) while wearing it. So it was a damn lucky hat.

Now, as I start assembling clothes and gear for my trip to New River, West Virginia, I realize that I will miss that hat. I wear baseball caps on birding trips all the time, but there was something special about that darn hat. :)

I just purchased a travel vest with lots of pockets
to keep all my birding supplies. I usually keep my field guide, notebook, pen, lens cleaner, cell phone (important when you are birding alone!), car keys, water bottle and insect repellent in a hunting satchel (Bob Allen rifle shell pouch that I got on sale in the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart)that hangs from a strap around my waist. But I wanted to be a little more fashion-forward and not embarrass my bloggy friends! New hiking boots (I have been breaking them in for a month now), wool socks and a new rain/ windbreaker are all ready to go. Still need a rainhat (maybe it will be a lucky hat!). It's going to be a marvelous trip!


Lynne said...

We're ALL gonna look like bird geeks on that trip! I bought new hiking boots too. I need to start breaking them in- I'll start tomorrow! I bought a gortex rain jacket two years ago but I need a rain hat too. Glad you mentioned that! I'm a baseball cap birder too- I like to keep my hair out of my eyes. AND--I have a pockety vest too!

Beth said...

But at least we'll all look like geeks together! :)

Susan Gets Native said...

People will be able to smell the geekiness all the way from Nebraska.

KatDoc said...

Just WAIT until you see me in my geeky garb! A hat is essential, and I have several, each one goofier than the next. I usually have a fanny pack (camera, iPod and iMainGo speakers, extra batteries), a bag for field guides, notepads, pens, and my lens cleaning kit, and binoculars with a "bra." I keep my cell phone and other assorted stuff in various pockets.

And now, with the bigger camera and two lenses, I will need a lot more pockets. Time to break out the photographer's vest!


Beth said...

I tried the binocular "bra" thing, but if you are large-chested (like me), it just looks awkward. Kind of an S&M bondage thing going on!


dguzman said...

You remind me of me, before my first birding festival! I have a fanny-pack-type birding bag, by Pajaro--so your bag won't be embarrassing.

I'm oh so jealous! You're gonna have such a freakin' good time. Prepare to laugh yourself silly. And believe me, you'll never meet a better bunch of geeks in your whole life!