Friday, November 30, 2012

What is a birder?

Bentsen SP 037

Bentsen SP 034Birding is the biggest attraction here at the World Birding Center of Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park. The really nice thing about birding is that it doesn’t really take much to become a “birder.” And just because you start looking at birds doesn’t make you what I call a “rabid birder.”

All it takes to be a birder is a pair of binoculars, a field guide to birds, and the desire to watch and enjoy birds anywhere. Some recreational birders (like Sharon) have said that they don't even really need to know what the birds are so a field guide to birds may be optional to those without interest in nomenclature. The rabid birder on the other hand will have all the field guides to birds that are in print. They also own multiple pairs of binoculars, a high zoom capable camera and most importantly a “rabid birder” is Bentsen SP 052a person who will often call the Birding Hot Line to get the locations of all the rare birds in the area. Once a new “lifer bird” (one the birder has never seen before) shows up on the rare bird alert they will drop everything and travel 10’s to 100’s of miles just to see this new lifer bird.

I am somewhere in between… I have one pair of binoculars, two field guides, a mid level point and shoot camera with a 12X zoom and I do keep a life list although it is out of date. Nonetheless this area of the Rio Grand Valley offers the chance to add a few “lifer” birds for me if I am lucky enough to see them. But one bird I always enjoy watching in this area is the endemic Green Jay.

Found only in the southernmost tip of Texas in all of the USA this colorful bird is all decked out in brilliant shades of blues, greens and yellows. Combined with a Bentsen SP 035specially fitted black mask and bib they are truly splendid birds to watch. These normally shy birds are easily attracted to bird feeding stations thus allowing this bird watcher the opportunity to watch them interact not only with each other but also with other species.

Bentsen SP 041I find it very fun to simply watch them hop from branch to branch or to the feeder to chase off a squirrel. They also make many varied sounds as they have a very extensive voice repertoire. This is one bird that I feel should be observed for a long while to really enjoy their antics…

This last photo is for Judy and provides what I think is an appropriate ending… and yes, as you may have noticed it is censored…

MESSAGE TO A READER: Kay and Larry D. that we met at Toledo Bend – if you still read our blog email us – we plan to travel your way this spring and we lost your contact information…


  1. Great photos of the Green Jay. We saw them last year and hope to catch them again this winter.

  2. I especially like that first photo of the green jay. Like you, I am somewhere in between as a birder. I enjoy all of the birds, and like to know what their names are. I might travel a few miles to see a new bird, but I'm definitely not 'rabid'. :)

    Nice "the end"!

  3. Beautiful Bird! Coming from the desert where our birds are brown sparrows and doves, (not going to mention the pidgeons), can't wait to get out there and see the more colorful birds! Enjoy your blog!

  4. Oh wow.
    These are fantastic shots. We'll be down there next winter, so I'm planning to follow along.
    I'm right with you. More than recreational, but certainly not rabid. Shall we coin a term? Judy needs to come up with something that captures our level of interest.
    Have you seen "The Birds of Texas" by J.L. Tveten?
    Not a guide book at all, but well illustrated and beautifully written. He has the most charming bit on Pelicans. Guess I should make it a blog post actually.
    Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

  5. Gorgeous shots of a bird I'd love to see up that close. I think it's beautiful. I too am a midlin' birder with about the same equipment as you have. Although I have never started a life list. I love to see them and photograph them if I can. I am putting this center on the top of my list for Texas. Hope I get there. Thanks for the information.

  6. Our two favorite birds last year in that state park were the Chachalacas and the Green Jays.
    Sure glad to see you are enjoying your time now.
    Take care ... TnT

  7. Lovely shots of the Green Jay ... I wouldn't call us birders, but we do enjoy watching and photographing them ... I don't carry around a field guide, but do have references to use to research them ... hope to get to the RGV to check out the birds with a friend who is a little more avid than we are (and I see they found your blog and already commented). The censored "the end" photo is hilarious.

  8. Nice photos of the green jay. you are in the area for great birding, enjoy!

  9. The Great Kiskadees and Altimira Orioles are also great birds to watch in that park, but not as prevalent as the Green Jays and the Chachalacas. Great pictures.

  10. Today I had a phone call at the Visitors Center. The caller said he was at Bentsen and had only seen one bird all day. He said he was told it was due to a lack of water at the park. He asked if we had any birds at our refuge. Just wondering what you think about this, some people move through the refuge so fast that they miss the birds.

    1. no doubt the park is very dry but if they only saw one bird they weren't looking very hard...

  11. We're with you there in the middle of the road and enjoyed seeing the different birds when we spent a winter in south Texas. You must have a better camera, though, those are some great shots of the green jay.

  12. I like your criteria for becoming a birder--means there is hope for me, not so much for my husband. That green jay looks like something you would find in South America, amazing photos. I always learn so much about nature in your posts. I am sure you were a wildlife biologist in another lifetime.