Monday, September 22, 2014

Rarity Reactions - the Acceptable Methods

It's been far too long since I've met a good rarity.  I have found myself moping around campus, dragging my feet with the angst of a depressed 13-year old who just realized Fall Out Boy is not the greatest band on Earth. I need a rarity - something awesome. When I finally satisfy my thirst for rare birds, I will likely perform one of the following celebratory displays of raritiness. Such displays rival the lekking Andean Cock-of-the-Rock in terms of sheer beauty and elegance, and are used by many birders across the country. The following can be considered "acceptable" in some circles, and are used by the Birder's Conundrum team on many occasions:

The Relief - A wave of relief washes over the observer.  Usually happens when you've dipped previously, or really need the bird for your state list.  Most intense Relief occurs when one has at defeated their nemesis.  Muscles relax as the birder enters a zen-like state.

The Fist-Pump - as memorialized by that infamous Esquire article, explaining how birding is being made cool by "aggressive, fist-pumping birders - frat boys with binoculars." As someone who has personally witnessed fist-pumping birders (myself included), I must admit that they are certainly not cool.  Nevertheless, the Fist-Pump is an acceptable celebration for seeing a MEGA, a lifer, or just a locally rare bird.

A Clay-colored Sparrow in the Southeast is certainly a fist-pumpable bird. Fort Fisher, NC.
Photo by Lucas Bobay. 
The Rarity High-Five - A favorite of the Birder's Conundrum team.  Usually led by a "I got a (insert epic bird here) in the scope", a few quick glances, and a look of utter amazement.  The high-five itself isn't anything special, but it makes the observers feel even more accomplished about their sighting.

The Shakes - Birders are a naturally nervous people, and the sight of a bird they've been longing for can make their already-feeble bodies go haywire.  Combined with caffeine, can cause hospitalization.  Occurs with exceptionally beautiful birds most frequently, i.e. the Resplendent Quetzal.

This quetzal would initiate shakes in any birder.  Photo by Lucas Bobay. 
The Run (A Form) - No destination.  It often involves the tossing of a hat, followed by a strange and awkward run/dance.  This is best performed when others aren't around.  May be combined with other reactions, especially the Fist-Pump, to create an epic display of birdnerdiness.  Suitable for any good rarity.

The Run (B Form) - With a purpose, i.e. getting another person or a camera.  It's generally common courtesy to alert others of your sighting, and even better practice to photograph the bird.  Sometimes birders performing the B Form find themselves performing monumental acts of strength.

The Glimpse-and-Charge - A flash of a bird catches the eye of a wary observer.  The birder knows - it's a good one.  Instead of trying to creep up on the prize (like a rational person would do), the birder all-out runs to where the bird landed.  This charge can involve barreling through other people, crashing through marshes, jumping over electric fences, and/or wrestling bears. Utilized by the Birder's Conundrum team when they found a Western Kingbird in South Carolina.

The "I'm Out" - "I just won." Both hands are placed above the head, as if being arrested by the police, while a look of utter disbelief crosses your face. If an earlier conversation was something like "I bet we find (insert rarity) out there", and you then proceed to find that rarity, you can use this form.

I told my dad Oregon Inlet, NC would be a good place for Snowy Owl. It was.
Photo by Lucas Bobay
So, next time you find a particularly exciting bird, remember these celebrations.  It may exile you from the rest of society, but at least you'll feel exponentially more satisfied about the Citrine Wagtail in your scope.


  1. All good, all very good, and the combinations used are even more intricate and impressive. In fact, I'm kinda surprised these moves are in an X-games event.

    Also, violent, uncontrollable vomiting and/or loosening of the bowels?

    1. Rarity-Induced Bowel Loosening Syndrome (RIBLS) is something I have yet to experience - though if I meet with just the right bird, it may happen someday.

  2. So are the blog articles written by multiple people, or is it just one person?

    1. Sam and I are co-authors of basically every post, though usually the "official" author listed on the post is the one who wrote more. So we are pretty much each other's editor.