Thursday, August 30, 2007

Five Dumb Things Said About Birds

Your taxes allow this wild creature to poop on your head!

Last night was the end-of-season potluck barbeque for all us Least Tern Reserve volunteers. We grilled big hunks of meat and shared desserts and horror stories as the sun set over Huntington State Beach. A great time was had by all.

Among the goodies we received were a compilation of the top volunteer observations and public comments over the season. ("June 1: 12 Willets, 10 surfers, couple having sex, several Marbled Godwits..."). The public comments were, well...interesting. On one hand, they made me realize how deeply needed our work on the reserve was. On the other hand, they made me realize that there is a scary level of ignorance about birds out there. Even worse than the ignorance about birds is the outright hostility I've seen towards those of us who do actually care about the natural world.

So here is my list (in increasing order of dumbness) of the five dumbest things I've heard people say about birds and birding, both in the Least Tern Reserve and out. (Some of these I didn't actually hear, but other Reserve volunteers did.) Be very afraid...!

5. (said by a cyclist in the Upper Newport Bay) "If I wanted to watch birds, I'd watch the Discovery Channel."

4. (said by former coworkers) "You go out and watch birds? You must get a lot of poop on your head."

3. (said to a volunteer at the Least Tern Reserve) "I'm tired of my tax dollars going to save endangered species!"

2. (said to a volunteer at the Least Tern Reserve) "You mean to tell me there are WILD BIRDS here on a PUBLIC BEACH?!"

1. (said by an adult during a tour of the San Joaquin Nature Reserve): "Wait—ducks can fly?"

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