Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.
Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/753549
13 November 2016 | Birder's Guide to Gear had another camera (a point-and-shoot like mine), said yes, and all was well. Many others in our group, too, carried cameras. But I didn't see a lot of binoculars. Give some thought to that. Birding with- out binoculars. Birding, instead, with cam- eras. Make no mistake about it: Birding with a camera is not the same as birding with binoculars. If I may conjure an anal- ogy from earlier, you might as well play hockey with baseball bats or tennis rac- quets. It's a whole new ballgame. Birding expert Pete Dunne, in a provoc- ative essay in Birding ("Facing the Digital Divide: Field Identification at the Cross- roads," August 2015, pp. 26–27), foresaw it. Is birding with a camera really field identification? Is it birding at all? I believe that binocular-based bird ID and listing—in other words, the way we've been doing it for close to a century—is in the process of being deposed by camera- based sharing and celebration. That's not to say we've walked away from a hundred years of rigor and discipline. On the con- trary, I'm seeing more awareness than ever of molts and plumages, hybrids and sub- species, and so forth. And when it comes to insects and other arthropods, we're seeing a full-on Great Awakening of knowledge and understanding. With easily obtained digital photos, you really can identify most skip- pers and spreadwings—and even moths. The rigor and discipline are still there, yes, but the climate and culture feel differ- ent. It used to be "I saw a rarity." Now it's "I got this photo." It used to be "Nice find" or "Good call." Now it's "Nice capture" or "Like." And it used to be "I hope to add a species to my list." But now it's "I hope I get a nice photo to share." Something's changed. In the early 1980s, the kid with a boxy black camera wasn't going anywhere. In the mid 2010s and be- yond, the kid with a boxy black camera is leading the charge toward new frontiers in birding and nature study. Game on. Acknowledgments I thank Diana Doyle, Greg Neise, and Pete Dunne for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. Two-tailed Swallowtail Photo © Ted Floyd Taxiles Skipper (female) Photo © Ted Floyd Lyre-tipped Spreadwing (male) Photo © Ted Floyd