The Universal Laws of Birding

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: The Universal Laws of Birding
From: knightl <>
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 09:39:02 +1000
For those of you unable to get on the web, I have appended the "rules" from the US website that would appear to fit the Antipodean context. I'm sure Terry Pacey would endorse the last one.

The Universal Laws of Birding

Sacrificial Lamb Law - The bird will be seen by others only after you, as the sacrificial lamb, leave.

Theorem of Diminishing Returns - The longer you look for a bird, the less likely you will find it.

Hoffman's Corollary - The further you travel to see a particular bird, the less likely you are to find it. (Carolyn Hoffman)

Arie's Nemesis Theory - If you don't see the bird within a certain amount of tries, it becomes insulted and deliberately avoids you from then on. (Arie Gilbert)

Gilbert's Wishful Thinking Hypothesis - This takes place by casually mentioning a bird and then the bird shows up. (Arie Gilbert)

Hoffman's Law - You may look for a particular bird for 20 years without finding it, but once you DO find it you find them everywhere. They turn up in your driveway, on your porch, EVERYwhere. They suddenly become robin-like in their numbers. (Carolyn Hoffman)

Field Mark Tendencies Scenario - Whenever you are out birding without a fieldguide and see a new bird, the fieldmark you think is the important one is never the important one. The bird always flies before you can look at the important one. If there is an important field mark, the bird never lets you see it. If the bird sits there all day and lets you look at all its field marks, it is not a rare bird. (Carolyn Hoffman)

Arie's Photographic Anomaly - Your best photographic opportunities will occur when you leave the camera behind. (Arie Gilbert)

Bangma's Photographic Absolute - The lens you have with you is never long enough. (Jim Bangma)

Sosensky's Exception - If the lens is long enough, the bird will be too close to focus on. (Steve Sosensky)

Norm's Photographic Observations
If you see a bird you don't recognize and photograph it for later identification, all the key characteristics will be obscure. All small, nervous, flighty birds have an innate ability to feel photons reflected from their body being focused on a viewing screen and move instantly. Otherwise outstanding portraits of birds will show the nictitating membrane in use. (Norm Smith)

Sosenky's Theory of Optical Availability - Birds are most visible when your binoculars are down.

Field Guide Corollary - The bird is most visible when you look in your field guide and least visible when you go back to look for the next field mark.
(Steve Sosensky)

The Transubstantiation Phenomenon -- The ability of many rare birds to change their appearance into that of a common bird in the amount of time between your spotting them in a tree with your naked eye and raising your binoculars to look at them. An evolutionary holdover from the days of collecting. (Joe DiCostanzo)

The Inverse Distance Waterfowl Law -- The rarer the duck or goose, the further from shore it will be. On an enclosed body of water, it will always be on the diametrically opposite shore from you and this shore will always be private land or otherwise inaccessible. (Joe DiCostanzo)

The Weekend Migration Rule -- In published analyses of arrival and departure dates for any given migration in bird journals it will be found that nearly all birds arrive in the spring on a weekend and depart in the fall on a weekend. (Joe DiCostanzo)

The Luck of the Uninterested Rule -- At any stakeout for a rare bird at which a large number of birders have assembled, one birder will usually have dragged along an uninterested, nonbirding friend or relative. The nonbirder almost inevitably will be the one who looks the other way or wanders off and finds the sought after bird. (Joe DiCostanzo)

Field Guide Inaccuracy Absolute - There is always an expert in the group who knows more than the field guide about the finer identification points of a given bird. This applies to every field guide or book ever written and is particularly relevant when the bird is rare. Frequently, the matter involves "gizz", a meaningless method for someone attempting to get a lifer look. It should also be mentioned that the aforementioned expert will have NEVER written a field guide. (Frazier)

Shorebird Viewing Problem - Away from actual seashores, some of the best shorebird locations are also the least scenic or the smelliest. (Frazier)

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