‘How to tell the ornithological girls from the boys’
Take a moment (before reading on in amusement) to check out the flock of bird-watchers pictured at the top of this post. Just how hard is it, on a scale of one to ten, to tell the males from the females?
Well. As someone who has actually been on more than one ‘birding’ trip and traipsed around many a field a-flutter with fellow ‘birders’, I’m here to tell you that it can be a tad difficult to distinguish the sexes. No, I’m not talking about the sexes of the birds. I’m talking about the sexes of the people watching the birds.
By the way, I’m not crazy about the terms ‘birding’ and ‘birder’. Almost as much as I’m not crazy about other nouns-turned-into-verbs-and/or-adjectives: ‘parenting’, ‘crafting’, ‘kidding’. (I’m kidding about ‘kidding’.)
But back to my theme. I have this theory that there is something about bird-watching that contributes to the blurring of sexual distinctions. (Again, refer to the photo at the top of this post. Or check out this one here:)
Of course this might be simply due to the fact that male and female birders (there’s that word again; sorry) sport similar plumage; they tend to dress nearly identically in layered shapeless garments in a not-very-wide variety of earth tones. Hmmm, make that mud tones. So very unlike Scarlet Tanagers. Of course, people have hair. But hairstyle is no help either, since birders of both sexes favor hair that’s cropped short. Or, if it’s long, they wear ponytails. (I have yet to spot a birder with a man bun, thank god.)
Oh, and there’s the asexuality of the gear: ‘big-pocket’ vests, trusses and harnesses for the binoculars, hats with brims, caps with flaps. Nylon ponchos. Army drab nylon ponchos. Giant cameras, toted by any and all.
You can’t tell the sexes apart by their diet, either. Both males and females are up at the veritable crack of dawn, chowing down on the Birder Breakfast of Champions:
And this hard-to-tell-apart thing isn’t just because most birders are, to be perfectly honest, not very young. Check out this photo:
Of course, my flock of birders is the exception that proves the rule. I would share photos of Birder Elizabeth in her hot pink jacket. Or Birder David in his snappy watch cap. Or shapely Birder Christine in just about anything. But that would be invading their privacy and jeopardizing our friendship. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. I can share this one, since I’ve only myself to shame.
And I can show you this one, because The Dude never ever reads my stuff.
I’ll end this little birding observation by asserting that yes, sexual confusion aside, birding is incredibly fun and that no, I wouldn’t miss Cape May in May for the world. For one thing, I’d miss sightings like this one:
Amagansett, New York. May 2016