Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sleeping Through the Checklist

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Field trips at birding festivals can be intense experiences. The basic idea is to see as many birds as possible, and while you are not racing around, as on a Big Day, you do want to maximize the list of birds seen, and make sure the birds are seen by everyone. Among the trip leaders, it can get downright competitive when it comes to comparing lists and braggin' about good birds found. But ultimately it's all in good fun.

When the leaders read through the checklist at the end of a field trip, often during the bus or van ride home (as shown at right, above) some folks madly follow along checking off the birds they've seen. Others use the opportunity to catch 40 winks. After our recent trip to Anzualduas Park along the Rio Grande, we found it really hard to stay awake as we listened to the basso-profundo voice of Mike Overton (without beard in photo) reading over the day's check list. Heck, even Jim Danzenbaker (the bearded wonder of Brunton) was unable to refrain from snoring when Mike had the mic. Fortunately Overton is a top birder and butterflyer, so the sightings list was long and we all got a good nap.

Field trip tip: A great way to wake up your fellow birders so they pay attention to the check list is to perform your rendition of the "song" of a male yellow-headed blackbird over the bus' PA system. Like Colt 45 Malt Liquor, it works every time!