Friday, June 20, 2014

Graph - A Year in the Life of a Birder

Birders follow the calendar differently than the average person.  Our moods and personal cycles entirely depend on what the birds are doing.  This creates a roller coaster of emotion, sending people like me into an oscillating phase bouncing between fits of unbridled rage and complete elation.  I realized last year that these phases follow a relatively clear-cut pattern, generally peaking at the two migrations.
Enter this incredibly detailed and beautiful graph depicting the major phases of the birder's emotions.  We here at The Birder's Conundrum used complex and mind-blowing mathematical expressions to create this.  Keep in mind that regional variations apply, but this works for the Carolinas and Virginia pretty well.  Especially notable is the Red-eyed Vireo Valley - the lowest point of the year, summarized by the incessant singing of REVIs, invisible Cuckoos, and Cicadas.  This is the time of year where birding nearly ceases, and birders briefly lose sight of their ridiculous obsession and begin doing "normal" things.  The mind wanders to other pursuits, like posting beautiful photos of Cardinals and Bluebirds to Facebook pages, until at last a sandpiper shows up on a mudflat somewhere.  We are currently stuck in this treacherous valley.  Come on Baird's, White-rumped, or Pectoral - we need you. Please.

8 comments:

  1. Yes. Exactly! "Breeding birds are OK, I guess" in PA right now.

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    1. Thanks, Kate. We are rapidly approaching the lowest point of the year... hopefully your PA breeders will keep you going!

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  2. Nice article.. I've found out over the years, trying to find decent birds in the UK, that Spring is full of promise, but tough. It usually all works out well in Autumn!

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    1. Yeah, it would be pretty cool to compare graphs from different parts of the world. I think ones from places like Peru would show a consistently high "excitement plateau", and in places like the UK, the Fall migration would be higher than Spring.

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    2. Very similar here in Serbia, just move the markers a week or two left or right (this year spring migration started mid March). January is a bit more exciting as we all participate in waterbird census, and substitute Blackcap for vireo (but it stops singing at end of July).

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  3. Add to "Red-Eyed Vireo" the "Song Sparrow"

    I think I hate Song Sparrows right now. Probably the ugliest of native sparrows, and just enough variation in singing and calling that I have to think about whether I can dismiss that sound or not. Red-Eyes are clear enough from vocalization that I know not to stop and look.

    I saw one SOSP feeding a cowbird chick and was so pleased.

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    1. Song Sparrows are synonymous with Winter for me, so I actually kinda miss them right now. I prefer them to REVIs, still - at least you can lay eyes on a SOSP.

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  4. Don't forget in March-ish you actually see some grackles. I see grackles occasionally during winter and fall, then they're gone for the summer, but in late winter/early spring they come in floods.

    Summer obviously is the time all birders migrate south to Ecuador/Costa Rica/southern hemisphere where it's winter.

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