FW: Free this weekend: Birds of the World online

To: Canberrabirds <>
Subject: FW: Free this weekend: Birds of the World online
From: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2021 00:07:57 +0000

Perhaps a word of explanation.  I was writing something in another place and had to address the awkwardness in terminology.  (It’s really the same issue that comes up with ‘Canberra Ornithologists Group’.)


My thoughts were as follows –


Sometimes ‘birding’ means birdwatching; sometimes it denotes something more competitive.  As to which describes the more serious activity, we are on shifting sands. ‘No longer is it accurate to call me a birdwatcher, a term the pros use to dismiss the spinsters and retired British army colonels who wait passively for birds to come to them.  I have become an enthusiast, a chaser – a birder’ (Mark Obasmascik, The Big Year (2004).) There is more discussion about this in Mark Cocker’s Birders: Tales of a Tribe (2001).  He refers to the eight sub-clans in the tribe, from ‘scientist’, through ‘birder’ and ‘twitcher’, to ‘robin stroker’.  Anyone interested in what serious birding is should take a look at the aims, activities and rules of the American Birding Association. 

Along comes the new bird photography, now made much easier by the digital camera.  Are people ‘birdwatchers’ if mainly interested in photographing birds? Clearly, they are not necessarily ‘birders’ in the competitive sense. However, there are different kinds of bird photography. Some people do it as a supplement to ‘birding’ or to ‘serious birdwatching’. Some people pursue it as an end in itself, perhaps not much caring which species of bird it is. Some people do it for profit, and some do it competitively.

All the people referred to so far have some kind of interest in birds.  The term ‘bird-watcher’ is not always appropriate, and ‘ornithologist’ is not suitable for most amateurs. We need a new, comprehensive term.  I suggest they are all ‘birdians’. After all, ‘birdian’ is no more unreasonable than calling a person interested in Doctor Who a ‘whovian’.  I shall leave the thought there.  (On second thoughts, ‘birdist’ might be better. I am sure there is such a thing as ‘birdism’.)



Perhaps the Library of Congress has the last word on the birding/bird-watching issue.  On the page of Kingbird Highway with the publishing information appears the book’s formal subject, taken from a standard list.  This, in short, is ‘Bird watching’. According to the Library of Congress list of subjects (42nd edition, April 2020), ‘Bird watching’ is to be used rather than, but to include, ‘Birding’.


From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of David McDonald (Personal)
Sent: Friday, 8 October 2021 10:23 AM
To: 'Canberrabirds' <>
Subject: [Canberrabirds] Free this weekend: Birds of the World online


I know that many local birders (birdians?) already subscribe to Birds of the World online. If you don’t, this weekend you can try it out for free, as part of the eBird Global Big Day tomorrow:

Birds of the World will be free during the upcoming weekend (Friday, 10/8 at 8:00a.m. through Sunday at 8:00a.m. ET).’


Friday 8.00 am USA Eastern Time is Fri 11.00 pm AEDT, I believe.





David McDonald

1004 Norton Road, Wamboin NSW 2620, Australia

Tel: (02) 6238 3706 | Mobile: 0416 231 890

E-mail: m("","david");">


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