Bird Calls and Hemlines

To: "Russell Woodford" <>
Subject: Bird Calls and Hemlines
From: "Dave Torr" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 11:18:14 +1100
My only problem with this article is that I have yet to meet a lady birder
who actually wears a skirt!

On 15/01/07, Russell Woodford <> wrote:


I think this timely response and summary is the most fitting we can
expect to a "last word" on the matter.

Russell Woodford
Birding-Aus List Owner

Geelong   Victoria   Australia

On 15/01/2007, at 12:39 AM, Julian Bielewicz wrote:

> Over many years of birding, both Down Under and back Up Above, I
> have often
> viewed the trends in our pastime much as one would perhaps see
> fashion fads
> in the length of ladies' skirts.  When I was a younger soul, with
> much less
> around the middle and a lot more on top- and Cannock Chase was my
> stomping
> ground for birds not necessarily of the feathered genre- it was
> considered
> rather bad form to even be seen with a field guide.   Real birders
> used only
> their binoculars and a notebook in which they recorded details of
> any bird
> not immediately recognized out in hedge or briar.  Books were only
> consulted
> after the outing, back in the library, or, more likely, at the
> local with a
> pint of the landlord's best bitter to sup while considering the
> various
> nuances of plumage, or other characteristic details that separate one
> species from a agonizingly similar conspecific.  Anything else
> would have
> been viewed as unseemly.
> Much as when ladies carried their skirt hems below their ankles.
> Even the
> hint of exposed stocking would have raised eyebrows, set tongues
> wagging.
> Reputations were scandalized on less.
> I note with interest Peter's mention of 'RememBird', an electronic
> notebook
> one takes out into the field.  And yet it has overtones.  It can be
> armed
> with birdcalls and that may be akin to offering a ketchup-smothered
> hotdog
> to a delegate of the Slow Food Society.
> Some time later in my birding career I came across the first of the
> pishers
> and whistlers or those who preferred to suck on the back of their
> hand.
> They rambled up dale and down vale and never saw where their feet
> trod, or
> what their feed trod in.  Ladies' hemlines rose above the ankle.
> It wasn't long after this that I was introduced to the scrap of
> polystyrene
> and a chard of broken glass.  Rubbed together they were a total
> failure to
> any respectable arsonist but could induce the odd bird or two to
> break cover
> for a fleeting moment to see the latest circus in AviTown.  Ladies
> calves
> were becoming visible beneath their hemlines.
> Where there's a perceived need there's a capitalist prepared to
> exploit the
> niche.  Some might prefer the adage that necessity is the mother of
> invention.  Whichever agrees better with your palate, the practice of
> attracting birds to artificial calls encouraged the Audubon
> squeakers to
> flood the market.  And yes, Bob, I still have mine, attached to the
> strap of
> my binoculars.  Hemlines rose to the knee but it is the devil's own
> job
> locating those small plastic vials of resin needed to revitalize
> drying
> timbers.
> As technology advanced so we had the bird call tapes and all one
> needed was
> a portable player.  At one point it came close to absurdity.  The
> challenge
> was not so much whether or not one could recognise the call of a
> particular
> species but whether one could distinguish the Real McCoy from the
> myriad of
> frantic twitchers belting decibels of Pitta calls out into the
> rainforest.
> The era of the midi skirt had arrived.
> And so we have come to the ipod and its ilk.  The mini skirt!
> Tastes remain personal.  As a young man I was always attracted to
> women in
> minis.  As an older man… Some moralists have always loathed the
> shortening
> of the hemline, as if the two were somehow inversely linked - the
> higher the
> hemline, the lower the moral standard.  Using calls to attract
> birds seems
> to be encountering similar trade winds and it depends on the tack
> of your
> boat as to whether it is the best thing since sliced bread or the
> devil's
> own concoction.
> I very much doubt whether those who don't will ever be convinced
> that they
> should or those that do be persuaded that they shouldn't.  In a
> pastime
> without official referees or rules set in concrete each birder will
> proceed
> in whatever manner they feel most comfortable with.  After all some
> birders
> can twitch television programs – and set themselves strict
> guidelines as to
> what is or is not 'tickable'-.  Who are we to say them nay?
> In the end I suspect that the words of Simon King may be a reasonable
> compromise.  His advice is to use the recorded call up until such
> time as
> you hear the first response and then stop – never to repeat the
> recording.
> Simon King, alongside the delightful Kate Humble, assists Bill
> Oddie with
> the Springwatch and Autumnwatch programs produced by the BBC- and
> therein
> lies another tale of what can be done to attract the average person
> in the
> street to take an active interest in wildlife.
> Julian
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