Ep.92 Chirp, Quack, Twite, Hoot (Erik - Birding)
12:58AM Apr 14, 2020
Good day everyone who listened to talk your hobby and this is episode 92 chirp quack tweet hoot. I don't know why I said who's like that sounds very Canadian like a boot. Well, I'm Canadian, to be fair. So I think I get a pass on that. Anyways, my name is Alex and you're listening to Tom for your hobby and today I have the honor to have Eric as my guest on the show how you doing today?
I am doing very well. It is fantastic weather here so I can't couldn't be happier honestly.
And I would imagine where you're from right now you see a lot more birds this time of year than where I'm from. So it's a perfect condition. Right.
Oh, it's fantastic this this afternoon, we've had such great weather. My wife and I were actually out birding, like probably 15 minutes ago, just staying standing outside enjoying the Red Wing of black birds and everything standing behind the hotel. Like, the weather is just phenomenal. I honestly,
I already have so many questions that just popped up in my head right now. But I have to follow some sort of format so people don't get lost. Yeah. Before we jump into the birds, wildlife and nature and interest. Who is Eric, because I'm sure Eric is very interesting as well.
Yeah. So I, there's a lot about me. I'm originally from Oregon. I was born and raised near near Portland, Oregon wife and I got married back in 2013. And then we moved down to Texas. Live in Texas. We lived in Florida for a while but now we're back in Cannon Beach, Oregon, running her family's small hotel. So it's a little 12 room hotel. It's a lot of fun to run. Just the two of us
will tell awesome. Actually on that note my family. My parents adopted a dog and he's actually from Oregon. Oh really. Yeah, and the species is called an American Indian dog. I've never even heard of an American Indian dog. So it kind of looks like a husky and no no sorry German shepherd and Husky but smaller 45 pounds. And it's hyper, hyper allergenic and very smart. There's another variation of it. That is called a Native American Indian dog. And that one's mixed with the wolf. But there's only two breeders in the world, one in Oregon and one in Switzerland. Wow, that's crazy. Anyways, this is not a dog episode yet a bird. Unless dogs transform into bird somehow then in that case, yeah. But no. So we know a little bit Eric, which is perfect. And before we move on to the birds, do you have any social media links or websites that you would like to share so people can come check you out? I know you have a podcast you want to share that as well? Anything at all?
Yeah. So in addition to run the hotel, my wife and I, we host a podcast all about birding, all of our adventures all that stuff is called Hannah and Eric go birding. And we have a ton of social media basically every form of social media. We're present on we're all over the place on Instagram. We have two different handles hers Hannah Hannah goes birding, ha na h goes birding. And then mine Eric goes birding, er ik goes birding. We also have Facebook Hannah and Eric go birding. Twitter at we go birding and our website is go birding, podcast calm. So we're all over the internet.
So the better question to ask you is, where are you not located in online but
let's see LinkedIn. I'm not on LinkedIn. Same here. So we're in the same boat. We're everywhere else except LinkedIn. That's about it. Yeah, pretty much.
Well, that's perfect. I'll put that in the description below so people can go check that out. Follow support. Eric sounds like a very lovely and friendly person. So I do highly suggest you guys go give him some love. Now, we've mentioned birding a few times and people listening might be curious what that is, if you don't mind me asking what is birding?
So birding is kind of the more formalized like in the house. Maybe like in the recreation word for bird watching. So generally people go bird watching like, as like very ancillary to like their regular life is just kind of on the side. Generally the way I think of it and when I talk about birding, I'm generally talking about like, like intentional serious going out there to go specifically look for birds and hardcore. Like really trying to identify things you see, trying to target a specific species that you want to see for the day. Something like that kind of birding, like a more serious form of bird watching.
And for you when you first started this did you actually start off like being a birdwatcher? Are you just like you know what I want to go full in headfirst into birding like you research to do everything at once.
So it's it kind of started gradually. Back when my wife Hannah was in college, she had a ornithology class that was required by her first Her degree. And it kind of she was she wasn't doing great in it. And we decided after the midterm Hey, let's let's go. Let's go out and look at some birds and see if maybe that'll help us like her help her, like be able to pass the pass the tests and pass the class and everything. So we would go out up to Mary's peak in Corvallis or Finley National Wildlife Refuge down in Corvallis and just kind of go out and watch birds a little bit. We really didn't know what we were doing at all. We just had kind of an old pair of nikon binoculars, they were kind of falling apart. And we just like went out and just looked at birds and we didn't I think I don't even think we had a field guide. When we first started. It was just kind of just going out and looking at birds. And then it kind of grew and grew and grew when we moved to Texas. We actually moved to Texas, because Hannah got a job offer For Texas Parks and Wildlife as an interpretive Ranger at the world version. center headquarters. So it was like that we're really diving in deep then we're really into the culture by the time we we got married and we did that, but it kind of started gradually and we kind of worked our way up from kind of occasionally seeing birds to occasionally seeing birds intentionally. To now that's all we do is we intentionally see birds on a daily basis. And like pictures, audio recordings, everything we can possibly think of to enjoy them.
That's so awesome. Um, but you have different strategies on how you approach birds, like if they're on the ground, you're like, I gotta say, this certain distance if they're in the air, you tried it. That's pretty cool. And actually, a random question that popped in my head is, what is the first bird you've ever documented?
So I don't I honestly don't remember the absolute first bird. A lot of people have like a spark bird and this, this is the bird. They call it a smart bird. The first bird that really gets interested in sparks the interest of birding as well. as a hobby and as a recreation, but I can't, I can't really think of like a spark bird or the first thing that I really identified things that were kind of immediately apparent are things like red winged blackbirds, because they're just, anytime you go to a wetland, they're everywhere. They're super loud, and they're very gregarious. They'll stand out there on the top of top of the cat tails calling and calling and calling showing off their red shoulder. So it's probably red winged Blackbird, but I'm not sure
is the most common bird in Oregon and also what's the most common bird in Texas?
Oh, I don't know.
So, off guard.
It's all good. So the birds like in the town that I live here in Cannon Beach. Here we have two birds that are really calm, red winged blackbirds are common year round. And then we have two different or three different species of goals. seagulls that are common but they all interbreed and they there's it's very difficult to tell them apart. So there's goals. And then there's red winged blackbirds. They're both super common here, in this part of Oregon, different parts of the state have more more common birds, more different common birds, you know, I mean, yeah, no, I know, I know exactly what you mean. And
Are any of those birds aggressive? And when I say aggressive in the sense, let's say they're, they have a nest full of babies and or eggs, and they if anybody comes nearby, regardless if they know or not know, like, the birds would attack you.
Yeah, so some there are there are some so things like a Canada Goose. They're they're just hyper aggressive all the time. But that's part of their survival strategy. They, they, they're very aggressive all the time. But there's also there's also other defense strategies that birds use, aside from being aggressive. There's, there's a species of bird called killed here. It's lives all throughout the United States. And up into Canada and down into Mexico and everything. And they are it's a little species of short bird that usually is found in like parking lots and stuff. And they lay their eggs on the ground with no protection whatsoever. And if you get near to the nest, the parents will jump off the nest and run around and pretend like they have a broken wing. And that way you cheat you. If you're a predator, you would chase after that bird with a broken wing and leave the nest alone. And then as soon as you're far enough away from the nest, the bird all of a sudden flies up and then flies around you and goes back to the nest. That is so cool. I've never heard this strategy before. Yeah, so there's there's a few species that do that but killed here's like the first one that comes to mind when you asked about aggressive like that's, it's not aggressive, but it's definitely a defense mechanism in terms of they're young.
That's so cool. Like you hear a lot of like animals like pretend to play dead. This one's like, Oh, I'm injured, but follow me. But I'm not gonna be so cool. That's pretty cool. And yes, I do know a lot about Canadian Cuz I'm from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the capital of Canada. And there's geese everywhere even on bypass like people like just walk by them. They're, they're not as aggressive but if I'm sure you're in their way they will know they'll leave a mark pretty seriously. Yeah. Now before this conversation here, we're talking about this a little beforehand. You were mentioning competitive bird. Sorry competitive birding. If Yeah, me asking what is the difference between being a casual birder is called a birder, or Yeah, murder character. difference between being a casual birder and the competitive birder.
Casual birders are kind of, I mean, every I think pretty much everyone in the world is a casual birder, like you can use. If you've ever noticed an American Robin or a crow or Canada Goose or anything like that, like you I could consider you a birder like that's, that's enough to be a birder just noticing noticing birds and appreciating that they exist and all that that's, that's what kind of birding starts and then it goes all the way to, unlike a spectrum, all the way to the extreme of the extreme listing competitive birders, so birders are weird. And we'd like to make lists. And there's it within the United States, we break it down into a lot of different a lot of different types of lists, you have a year list the number of species that you've seen in the year, you can break that year list down to within the country, also within the state within your county within your yard. And there's there's a website, e bird.org. That we used to document our observations. And that's a website that is fantastic for breaking it down to make. If you're a hardcore Lister and you're competitive, it makes it even worse because now you have a database that's keeping track of that at all times for you. But the people that are listing like I'm one of them, but the people that are listing these things for your list and stuff We get really competitive, to try to see as many as you can either in a day or a month or a week. And it's just listing after listing after listing,
which is tons of
fun. I love it. That's so cool. And I don't know if this is a controversial thing, but do people tend to sometimes cheat when I say cheat? In other words, like say the saw bird but didn't really see it? Or is honestly like, really good. on this website.
Honesty is huge. And so this website is actually a bird. org is a it's a database that's used by scientists. And so the, the observations that you input into there are used by scientists to track to model population data for different species. And it's based it's citizen science. So it's, you go out there you make as many observations as you can, and honesty is the way the whole thing functions. And I would venture to say more than 99% of all observations on there are truthful observations are at least True enough to the extent that the person's observing so people are gonna make mistakes like they're you're you're gonna miss identify something that happens all the time. But intentionally Miss identifying something because you wanted to add it to your list, I think less less than 1% of the time that something like that happens and usually those people end up getting called out at some point and the burden is based entirely on your, on your reputation. So if you as soon as as soon as you get that mark on your reputation that you've been, you've been stringing or you've been lying about birds that you're seeing, like it's gonna follow you and then people just aren't going to believe you and you're not going to make a lot of friends in the birding community.
Yeah, I would imagine you have nothing to gain from it then that like little 15 minutes of fame and then it's just gonna fade Oh, yeah.
Oh, is it not even 15 minutes like it's it's almost no Fame at all. There's no there's no money involved even even in the big birding competitions. Like in the great Texas Birding Classic. Texas Parks and Wildlife holds this competition every spring. And you go out there and you see as many birds as you can in some different categories human powered, human powered big day or big week, all throughout Texas or stuff like that, where you just see as many species as you can given certain constraints, either time constraints or location constraints. And like even the prize for that as a T shirt, like it's not, it's not like, you win something big. It's there's nothing to gain except for like, perceived popularity or perceived fame, which doesn't last for very long.
At the end of the day, it's more about the experience, rather than Exactly, yeah. Which is always a wonderful thing. And that's exactly why I have you here for your experience. And so you're talking about like database and like organizing everything. How many birds have you seen now like individual birds, let's say you've seen like 50 goose or geese, I mean, like different species.
So I have seen 1100 and 30 57 species Wow, which the bird does a great job of keeping track of that. So I know exactly how many I have at any given minute. But there's a total just over 10,000 species in the world. So I'm my wife and I refer to it as the 10%. Club. We just joined the 10% Club. So I don't think anyone else ever calls it that. I think we just call it that, but
we're calling it here. It's coined unless you're gonna use it and everybody else use it on our podcast that's already been going on the other place. So it's been coined in two places now. So it's official.
Yes. It's official. It's, it's been seconded. Motion passes. It's an international
it's in Canada in the states now.
Yeah, so the, we I keep track pretty diligently of how many birds I've seen and where I've seen them. And I we used to keep track just on an Excel spreadsheet. But then when a bird was launched, we keep track of everything there. We went back and posted all of our lists that that we had made back from back before we use the bird and so on. Everything that I've ever seen for birds is listed on E bird. I have like a lot of it written down to anyways, but as a backup, but it's all listed on E bird. So it's convenient all in all in one place, I can go there and look at how many if I want to know like, oh, how many birds have I seen in Washington State on ever and I can go there and look and find that information. So it's,
it's kind of cool. I love how it's like such a detailed site and everything's concise to organize. Now, this might be a bad question, but is there anything on that site you wish they had? That would improve the experience like Oh, just like new form of organizing or new type of data that you add in or anything like that?
No. So there's there's some like nitpicky things that I'd like to see on there, but I the whole websites free, it's run entirely. It's run entirely on donations. And like I don't there's no way I want to push them to anything because it's like I get all of this out of every website. Like there's so much that I personally enjoy that it's like okay, everything you guys are doing is fantastic. I don't I don't want to push it any further.
I'm paying nothing and I want everything.
Now, when it comes to actually birding itself, what kind of gear do you bring along with you?
So it kind of depends on how, like long we're going to be out in the field. I have I have a big digital camera big with a telephoto lens that I usually carry with me. almost almost every time I go burden. I have a pair of binoculars that every time I go, I carry with me, we have on our phones. We have Field Guide apps that are basically like a paper Field Guide, but it's on as an app on your phone. I also carry with me usually a audio audio recording device. It's the same one that I use for for recording our podcast, but I just carry that with me and I use it to record bird calls. And then Hannah usually gets the burden of carrying our spotting scope. So carry that I carry I carry the other stuff and then we go out there and look like a bunch of people Do faces walking around carrying a ton of gear walking through the forest.
But no it's more people see you as like, oh these people are
on a mission they are they're out for sewing. Oh, for sure. We get questions all the time.
But I'm sure like it's pushing out of curiosity like they want to really well. Yeah. And have you actually stayed in touch with any of these people afterwards? Like hey,
your burden No, I haven't met anyone that that I that I all of a sudden I found out they're burning afterwards. But I have kept in contact with we've met a couple random people on the trail that well Hey, what are you doing? What are we What do you Why are you carrying all that stuff? And we talked to them for a while and then I've ended up following them on Facebook at some point. They're there they're just living their life doing their thing, but it was just like, just random people I've met on the trail and now now suddenly, we're we're friends on Facebook like Facebook friends, internet friends, but that's awesome. Like, like us, right? Yeah.
Well, this random thought popped up in my head as well. Because you're mentioning binoculars and you have a camera as well. Does it exist a binocular with like a camera system inside like a real We did one. So instead of like you have to look through the binoculars take out your camera. It's like both of them integrated together.
So there's there's a whole like the, if you want to go into optics there is like piles and piles and piles of optics stuff to talk about. But there's something that a company, a glass company, Swarovski, they make, they make really high end binoculars they also make like glass and crystal like jewelry and stuff like that. But, but they make they just recently partnered with Merlin, which is the is which is a subset of E bird is kind of Cornell labs, Merlin e bird. They're all together as one giant thing. They Swarovski partnered with them to make this device that you could take it was it's a binoculars that you could take a picture of, and it'll identify the bird that you took a picture of us so cool, which is just weird. But it's I think it's a six power binocular that that takes a picture and then it syncs it to your phone and then it identifies with the Merlin app on your phone so it it uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone and then you can also like show people what you're looking at, like through the binoculars they could make a login to the log into the device on their phone. And I don't know there's I they just released it like a couple months back so I got to play around with it a little bit last last November but it's it's not something that I really want want to mess with but but it's definitely a thing that is out there now and it is interesting, but it's cool
that Yeah, you said you're right. It's out there and means that a lot more people are showing interest that developing more technology towards improving birding, which is so cool. That's awesome. That's like, oh, man, that is so cool technologies. Cool. I'm actually speaking about technology and gear. That sounds like an idiot saying that but yeah. Is there anything that you wish you had for brewing that doesn't necessarily exist yet, like a type of gear or I don't know anything at all.
I don't know. So I like years back, I thought that this thing the Swarovski just came out with with the be able to take a picture and it could identify I thought that would be the coolest thing ever. And then as I've learned more and more I keep thinking like, well, that takes a lot of the fun out of it. It takes a lot, it takes a lot of the a lot of the work out of like learning the bird like because it to a certain extent that it doesn't do it 100% like you're not going to get 100% ID on everything. So there's groups of birds that are almost impossible to tell apart visually. You have to know their call. And so it's not going to do anything for that. So it'll say oh, well that's a that's a fly catcher. I don't know what kind but it's up like so you still have to know but I feel like it does take some of the a little bit of the fun out of it. So I don't know I really I wish I had a lighter, like a more lightweight camera. So because my camera setup is I think it weighs like 11 pounds, maybe. So it's, it's it's kind of exhausting carrying it on one shoulder all day long as you're hiking, but I don't know, I kind of like all the stuff that I have. So
another random thought that came to my head. I don't know if you're gonna be for or against it, you know, you're saying like, dude, some binoculars can tell like AI, basically identifying the bird. But instead of that, what about like a thermal binocular that will be able to detect like body heat, so you can see where the bird is located, and you can like switch it on and off and like then you could observe the bird.
That would be kind of interesting. So there's, it would be kind of interesting to see like, like, when you can't see into the bushes like, Oh, well, how many? How many are deep into that bush, but then also, feathers are really good insulators. So I don't know how much heat you'd be able to see through their feathers. I don't know.
Somebody working in the ocular camera, district or industrial situation. If you want to work on that, you know, give a shout out to Eric. I'm sure he'd be interested in giving some input and how you can make it better or not,
you know, test it.
Send me one. I'll go hide in the bush. You can see if you could see me I'll cover myself in feathers.
But yes, we're Have you actually gone to travel to go birding?
So we have gone a lot of places. We, we moved to Texas, because of birding. We moved to Florida because of birding. And then we've also gone on multiple international trips. A few years back, we went to Southeast Asia where we went to Malaysia and a little bit in Indonesia, and just kind of we went to Borneo and we just traveled all around over there doing as much birding as we could. Went to Singapore when we were on that trip, too. That was a ton of fun. We just recently got back from Scandinavia, we've been to Ecuador. We spent two weeks in Ecuador. A couple years back, Costa Rica, Cuba, France. Like it's no Anywhere that has a cheap flight has birds there. So we're gonna go like we we book all of our flights when we find a cheap flight somewhere. We don't really have a destination in mind, we always just say, Okay, well, whatever is the cheapest flight in this timeframe, we'll go there. And so we booked something cheap. And then we everywhere in the world has birds. So you can go bird anywhere even even go down to Antarctica. there's not very many birds, but there are birds down there. So it's everywhere you go, you're gonna find birds. So we're pretty much everywhere we go. We go for birding.
That's awesome. I love the sporadic like, just spontaneous, sporadic, spontaneous, like, oh, cheap. Like, it's gotta be some awesome birds there. Yeah. And that actually is a question or it leads up to my next question. Is there any where you would like to go like, what's the next place on your list?
So the next place it's actually on our list that we're going, we're going to Israel at the end of next month. At the end of March. We're doing a birding competition over there called the champions of the flyway. My wife's on first international all women's team that's competing this year, women and step they're trying to raise money to promote the conservation of the steppe eagle over there. And but aside from where we're already planned on going places, like I pretty much just want to go like everywhere. But what kind of on the shorter, shorter list it would be any any place in central Eastern Africa, any of those countries over there, Kenya, Uganda. Those that whole section of Africa is just full of wildlife and I would just love to go over there and see some really, really fantastic like African tropical species
do to do so take videos
or just pictures, pictures and audio. I don't I haven't figured out how to do video. No, I'm a big like documentary fan. And I always like like watching those documentaries about like animals and stuff like that and it comes with South America there's a lot of like exotic birds with rituals and mating displays that are really cool. Have you ever seen any of those I've seen. So I've seen some really cool stuff here in the states of mating displays things like when red tail hawks are locking talents and spinning and the Sandhill Cranes. Up here, they'll do these crazy weird dances where they grab sticks and throw them dance around. So there's some really cool stuff that I've seen up here, but I haven't I haven't been down into the tropics or anything during breeding season to see any of that cool any of them doing display behaviors. Doing that and in the tropics, unfortunately, which I'd love to do that sometime
for the people listening. The meaning displays does not transfer to humans. You cannot throw sticks, it will not work for you for really weird if you did, but on the notes of a cool experience. What is the most interesting thing you've ever seen while birding
I don't know that's so I, I've been trying to think where I can't I can't think of like something that's like, as particular super interesting, like bird experience. I mean, every day there's another bird experience of something interesting. That's good, too, I think yes, two years ago, Hannah and I went down to the Rio Grande Valley birding festival, and there was a sighting of a rare bird called a roadside Hawk. It's, I think it was the second time, the only the second time that had been sighted in the United States. And so we're super excited. We're like, Oh, well, we'll go We'll go. Make sure. Like after we're done guiding for the day, we'll go head out and see if we can find it with with some people. And so we're sitting in the break room and eating our lunch. And then this guy, Richard Crosley. He's one of the authors of a number of field guides, he busts in the door and he says, All right, I'm not driving, but which one of you guys are going out to go find that roadside Hawk and then was one of our other friends raise his hand. He's like, I'm going it's like Alright, well, if Richard Crosley is going with him, we're going to go with him too. So we all pile into a van and go go racing down the highway to go find this roadside Hawk, we end up seeing it. And so we're all standing on the side of the road looking at this Hawk, which is fantastic. And it looks it's just another Budo style Hawk. So like a red tail Hawk or something like that. It's a different shape and a little bit different size and different colors. But it's basically it's To the untrained eye, it's just another Hawk. But we have there's hundreds of birders on this road standing looking at this Hawk. And we're so excited. And then but the sun was starting to set and Richard Crosley, he was like, Oh, I need to, I need to go get pictures of green parakeets. So for because for whatever guide he was writing at the time, so we go racing off down the road and stop like on the side of the highway, and he's, he's racing back and forth taking pictures and Hannah and I are just sitting there like, this is the craziest thing ever we drive halfway through across the county to go look at this look at a rare like this, like code five like roadside Hawk a rare bird never seen a look in a green parakeets.
But it was 100% worth it.
Oh and 100% Yeah, it's definitely something to remember. But so like, like in terms of like interpersonal things, I think that's really interesting but like, birds stuff that's interesting like every day you see something new. And you see something interesting see see different behavior. We heard some European starlings, like a half hour ago standing out behind the hotel, and one of them was imitating a bald eagle. Like we're saying that it's just interesting things that just happen. Like, it's not something anything you plan or anything, you're just standing and observing. And all of a sudden, boom, like, this weird thing happens. So you never know when something interesting and exciting is just gonna jump out in front of you when you're paying attention.
I don't know about you, but I always find it interesting when an animal starts doing something that is completely of their nature. And I'm sure that happens. Not quite often, but I would imagine it happens sometimes in birding as well. Have you ever seen that like a boy that you know, has a certain type of like habit? And then you just see a dude something that is completely out of its nature?
Once again, it's in the backlog of your memories. All you see so many interesting things. Anyway, so the next question, I don't want to get you to stuff. Is there any specific bird that you would love to see but just haven't had the chance to see it? Like, it's the first one on your list?
So there's, this is like a really easy answer for me, but hard to explain. So my, my favorite genus of all birds are woodpeckers. So all the all the birds that are within the woodpecker family are my favorite. There's, there's hundreds of them. We only have like 12 of them here in the stair 15 of them here in the States or something like that. But like I love woodpeckers, and specifically, there's a family within it called the campus feliss woodpeckers and that's most of them are down in South America. There's a couple over in Asia but there used to be one that has gone extinct in the United States called the ivory billed woodpecker and that's that's the one I want to see the one that's extinct that may or may not there was supposedly a potential sighting back in 2004 I believe was the there was a video of something that some people think it was a hoax some people don't but it's a very large woodpecker so if you're familiar with the pileated woodpecker, which is a big red headed woodpecker that woody the woodpecker from the cartoons back in the day that he was based on that that large woodpecker it's like, twice the size of that Woodpecker. Well, it's a mom. It's a monster woodpecker, and it has this huge giant chisel bill and it's it from from all from all written accounts. It's just a like a spectacular thing to see. And I would love to See that I have seen one other species in the camp of feliss family. The pale billed woodpecker down in Costa Rica. But any anything in the camp I feel is genius. I would be so happy like are the family I would be so happy to see that. Watch it like tomorrow morning you just see it like,
oh, Alex should have a bad time.
Actually, has it ever happened to you that you woke up to the sound of a woodpecker just
in the morning? It's happened to me a few times Has that ever happened to you?
Oh, yeah, yeah, so they woodpeckers especially during breeding season, they love to make noise like and attract some females. So like if you have exposed flashing on on your sighting that's metal, you'll attract northern flickers. And the affiliates love it too. Because it's so loud when they hammer on it to try to try to attract the the females. So it's especially breeding season if you're in the forest. You'll hear it and it'll it's loud,
stupid, really stupid question. But have you ever that's a constant force and a hammer and try to mimic or another type of object to mimic that exact sound to try to track another woodpecker?
There's a thing that birders do called pitching pee I sh IMG. It's, it's a thing that you use your mouth or your voice to make sounds to mimic birds in order to get a response from him. Because if you play a recording, a recording is too close to the bird call and he can agitate birds. And so playing recordings is kind of frowned upon. But fishing is it's a sound that you're making. And it's generally far enough away that that it's it can't be amplified and there's a lot of things that it's not potentially isn't as harmful to birds. Living its life as playing a recording. So we do the thing where I'll just click my tongue, like as quick as I can like and it's I do it as much as I can As fast as I can, whenever I hear woodpecker hammering and probably 25% of the time, or maybe 15% of the time, I can actually get a woodpecker to respond with a hammer and then it will then it will come closer and it'll start chattering which is super exciting. I've had to work in a couple different places. So it's like I said, it's only like 15% of the time maybe. Like it's like you like oh my god, I just became a bird whisperer at that point. That's awesome. Yeah. Oh, I know. It's super exciting. When it happens. It's like
Oh, yes, it responded. Not
exactly what I do. Now.
Actually, on that note, how many different types of sounds can you do?
I cannot do that any. I am not very talented. I can I can click my tongue to imitate hammering of woodpecker and I can whistle a couple things. But generally, the only sound I make is this sound that almost sounds like the word pitch which is where the the onomatopoeia comes from. Fishing is kind of like a sound that you would make and it's Really good at agitating small small songbirds like the king lifts and stuff, it really agitates them so then they come and investigate you. So that's generally the only noise I make that that the clicking for
woodpeckers and then they come by like, Where's the bird? Who's this guy? Who is doing a human doing here?
Who's this jerk making?
Ah, speaking my language poorly.
Can't understand them. The only thing you know how to say is where's the washroom? Where's the wash?
Now, this is another stupid question, but it's really stupid. Probably the stupidest one I've had so far. But do you consider seeing birds in the zoo part of your birding collection?
So that's a question that we get asked by non birders a lot. And it's so it's definitely not a stupid question at all. So generally, like it's 10 for anyone your list of your birds is your list like it's, it's not like it's someone who is your list like personally, it's whatever whatever you want to count whatever you want to count if you want to count captive birds, that's fine. But in order like for us and there, there are an official official set of American birding association rules. Anything that is a captive bird, a dead bird or an A bird that's otherwise not free flying doesn't count as a bird to put on your ABA list, your American breeding Association list. So any anything that's actually captive in the zoo, I don't I don't count it on my list. But I have found a lifer while at a zoo. A lifers a bird first time you've ever seen it in your life. I've seen a lifer, a black bellied whistling duck. The first time I ever saw that duck, when it was flying free and wild was at the Gladys Porter zoo in Brownsville, Texas. So I was at the zoo, and it was inside an enclosure, but it wasn't captive in the enclosure. It was it was a Wild Wild Duck. It just happened to be in the enclosure. It's a very common duck for that area. Just Hadn't we had just moved there and I hadn't seen it yet. And as soon as as soon as we got to the zoo, they're all over in birding in some of the bird enclosures stealing all the other bird food, the captive from the captive birds. So it's one of those like thin lines. Like,
it's not captive, but it's like in a zoo. So, exactly. It's in a zoo. Yeah. It's visiting for the day.
Exactly. It has a visitor pass
in for you. What would you say is the best part about birding on a personal and emotional level?
I have always loved to learn, like just to learn anything, anything about anything and birding provides that outlet daily and just constantly so just being able to continually improve my identification skills, my observational skills on a daily basis improving that that's kind of tied with like tied in terms of what I love most with being able to meet people and be social and introduce people to birding. Like those two things. are learning and meeting people are like the two top things for me about, about birding, like the bird. The birds are up there to, like, learning about learning and then meeting people and being able to connect people with nature, being able to myself to be able to connect to nature, and just enjoy the world around me.
That's awesome. And that's why I have you here and hopefully, people listening to this get in contact with you and you just grow this burden community.
Yeah, it's it's a huge community already. But we can always use more. We can always use more people that care about the environment and care about the birds and enjoy nature. Your birds are awesome,
except when they're poking on my head. They're awesome. I remember I went to a theme park and the bird just kept on attacking my head. I'm bald. I don't know if that's the thing. They just really hate bald men. I don't know. Anyways, so I wear hat just in case but yes.
For you. What was your biggest challenge when you first started birding Knowing what I'm looking at. So like I said, when we first started, I didn't have a field guide. And we didn't really know what we were looking at. We didn't really know the depth of this activity. We didn't know that there were people that there were thousands of people that are out there looking for birds every day. We didn't know any of that existed. And so we started off and it was just like, it was just the two of us walking around in the forest, looking at birds, like we didn't, we didn't have a mentor to help direct us and teach us things. We didn't have a field guide to start with. So it was just basically just learning that was just trying to learn and get over that first hurdle of what what is that brown bird flying around in that bush? Like, I don't know how to narrow it down to anything. It's a brown bird of some sort. It could be anything. It could be a flamingo. I don't know what it is. It's something in that bush and it's flying around. It has wings. It's a moose. Yeah, getting getting over that hurdle was I think the the slowest And the longest like learning curve that we had just just getting started going once once we got started though, it's just becomes a daily challenge of like, what what is this bird that's like net now instead of like, well is that a robin or is that a crow? Now we're looking at Oh, well, there's like, like I was saying there's three species of goals out here that all interbreed and it's like well what goal is that? Is that a Western goal is that a Glock as being the goal? Is it is it one of these goals be it's just trying to separate that out now at the point that we're at now. So it's just constantly every day is a new challenge every day affords a new thing to learn. But that biggest challenge is just getting started. Like knowing how where to find yourself in a field guide when you finally get a field guide. Like where how to find what you're looking for and what you're looking at.
And I would imagine there's a lot of resources online that helps you out. It would have been a lot harder, let's say 30 years ago, but now since the internet's here, I guess it makes it a little easier. Right?
Oh, Significantly so there's there's a ton of things now that young birders now get the young birders 20 years ago did not get and didn't have the opportunity at all to have. So there's, there's apps, there's image recognition software from Cornell Lab of Ornithology that can, if you take a picture of a bird, you can identify it pretty much. If it's a North American bird, you can identify it from a picture with this app like it's so you just it helps you learning so much faster with all of these online resources to just figure stuff out and that back 20 years ago, you had a paper Field Guide. And if you if you had a lot of money, you had a camera so you'd have a camera that took okay photos, and a field guide, and you have to try to figure everything out from that. Now, it's much more technology.
Everything's there just at your fingertips. You just have to know how to find it. Exactly as birding ever stressed you out. In other words, let's say you went out for like an adventure. And just your camera was in full like the battery was in full the Brewers were coming out it was raining so hard. Anything like that
we've had a ton of stressful days nothing like nothing stressful enough to be like, why am I burning? But it's always it's always like just some frustration like you said it cameras cameras now fully charged or the biggest fight that I can think of that my wife and I have had was we were standing down in San Diego, we were birding in San Diego on Mission Bay, and we were looking out over the water. I was looking at one bird. And I thought Hannah and I thought we were both looking at the same bird. Oh, and she was like, well is that is that buffalo head, which is a type of diving deck. I was like, I have no idea or maybe it's the other way around. But either one of us thought it was a buffalo head. One of us thought it was something else. And both of the birds were vastly different birds we were looking at and we were legitimately looking at two different birds, but we just stood and fought and fought and just yelled and It was intense for a few minutes. And then and then we realize, wait a minute, you're looking at that burden like 10 feet away I'm looking at that bird was like 40 feet. And then it became a giant hysterical laughing fit. Like, I can't believe we just thought for the last 10 minutes screaming about buffalo had this buffalo had that like now it's two different birds. So we've had, we've had days like that, where we're not looking at the same thing. And then there's also like, like we were talking about earlier with competitive bird watching when we're out there, and we're just trying to get as many birds as we can, and you get to like noon or one o'clock and then bird activity starts dropping off and you're looking at the numbers that you have for the day and you're like, I don't, I don't have what I should have. I only have X number of species I should have y number of species. But as you start getting stressed out, and so there's, there's some days that it can be stressful, but that's not everyday.
I just love that story. And it happens like in every relationship not just for birding, but just Like you're talking about two different things and you think you're talking about the same thing but Oh sir, I least you were able to resolve that or it wasn't just left in the air thinking for the rest of your life that you're both talking about two different are the same bird.
Yeah, sir. Seriously
that that bird doesn't have
any white on it. What are you talking about? That bird is covered in white?
Why are they yelling about two different birds?
Why are they fighting? They're just standing next to me. They're just standing on the beach yelling at each other. I don't know what's going on.
And the birds are like, What the hell are they talking about?
Now for you what has birding taught you in life.
It has taught me how to travel my wife she she books most of the most of the flights because she just loves to search for the flights, flight deals that are great. But it has taught taught me how to travel like we before. We were birding. We're not traveling and birding, it forces you to sell or it doesn't force you. It makes you want to travel it makes you It makes me want to go see more things so that drive to want to go see more things is like okay, well now I need I need to go to Ecuador now I need to go to Russia I need to go I need to go places and in order to go those places to those places I need to find an economical way to do that otherwise I can't go to someplace else next year because I won't have money for it. So it's just learning how to travel economically has been like probably the one of the biggest things that that I have learned through birding. That's not bird related. That's not directly bird related.
But I love that connection. Like one thing taught you another thing is that's awesome. I love that about hobbies. Holly just teaches you life lessons that are not necessarily related to your hobby, but as a practical to everything else and they just they're all intertwined, which is perfect. Oh, absolutely. And I forgot to ask this question earlier on but what is your preferred season to go birding?
So, burnings burnings year round you can you can burn 365 days a year this year, you can burn 366 days but you You can burn at all all year round. It just depends on what your how comfortable you are with being uncomfortable and where you live. So if you live down in the south you live down in Texas and Florida is really comfortable a bird in the winter you have some really good species in the winter too. But when it gets to the summer, you have fewer species. There's a few things that are different in the summer that you don't have in the winter. But it's so uncomfortable to be outside. So you can there's cool things to see but it's also like 100 degrees 100% humidity, so it's it's uncomfortable. And then you have the flip side you you live up in the north you live up where you're at or you live where I'm at over here in Oregon. And in the winter, it gets a little bit chilly. And but the winter has different species than you have in the summer here. So it's kind of you have you have different things I love birding year round I'm I want to see things I made a challenge last year. To bird every single day I bird it every single day last year I didn't miss a single day I was able to get outside every day and bird for at least five minutes but year round is like I don't I don't hold a preference for for anything if I want to see a large number of species I spring but but it just to go birding I love all year round.
So congrats to you, man for doing it for a full year like what are your challenges? That's awesome. And I bet you you have like so much database because that's like good research and like, Alright, well this is more common for these birds at this time. They're in this day. That's so cool. And for a little darker side note going from cool to like, ooh, not as cool as scary. What are some misconceptions about people who go birdie,
the biggest misconception is that everyone that's burning is old and retired. And I guess it's true to some extent still, but it's the dynamic is shifting. There. I'm I'm 30 and there are a number of murders that are Within my social group that are between like eight to 10 years younger than I am, that are burning and have been burning for just as long as I've been burning. And so the dynamics shifting and it's not the old retired person that's wearing a big wide brimmed hat, standing standing outside, yelling at people to get off their lawn sort of people that are out there birding anymore. Now, it's becoming more and more inclusive. There's more women birding, there's more people of color birding. There's more young people birding so it's becoming a more inclusive hobby, than it used to be just old white people out there. Burning. And you know what,
it? What's great about it, too, is that why? Because you're seeing a lot more younger people are doing it because burden can also be a very physical thing to do to go catch that bird a specific time like you were saying your adventure where your friends like, Hey, we're going out. We're gonna go see this bird right now. Boom. Like for some people who are older, I'm not discriminating other people, but it might be easier for them for like a Want to save them? I mean younger people. But at the same time birding is just proven to be one of those hobbies that can be enjoyed by very young people like that. Look, the moment you can see, that's the moment you can enjoy it till you're old or less wise, wiser.
Exactly. You can enjoy it at any age. I guess the main reason it's mostly retired or has historically been mostly retired people is because you have more time for it. Once once you don't have a job to go to nine to five or 40 hours a week or whatever it is you do on a daily basis. Once you don't have to do that every day. All of a sudden your schedule frees up and be before it fills in with volunteer opportunities that you can't get out of. Yeah. Before it fills up with that stuff. It you can start burning and so generally that's that's how it went historically, but but now it's we have the millennials, we have the gen the Gen X and Gen Y that are starting to get into like squeezing a little bit of freedom. They have and going birding.
So which is, which is nice. Now you can correct me if I'm wrong, but defeating let's say bread is bad for birds, correct?
Yeah. So anything prepared, anything that's processed is bad. So the process the processing of wheat takes out a lot of things and adds in sugars. And so that's, it's basically like eating candy. And so like things like your mallards and other ducks, other duck species that are in ponds, if you feed them, if you feed them bread, it's basically like feeding candy. And they love it because it's like for us eating candy. But if they eat it and eat it and eat it, that's all they want. And they develop these bone disorders, like angel wings where their wings become misshapen, and they can't fly anymore because of it, and it's just because their body isn't getting the nutrients that it needs. And so it's definitely not a good thing to give anything processed. If you want to give birds things go Go buy some wild bird seed and toss out some millet or sunflower seeds. They'll love it. But they won't love it as much as white bread. Because it's not candy. It's food they need but it's not food they want. But I guess it's really important to know this, if you are planning to feed the birds in
to make sure that they're healthy. You've got to feed them things that are good for them.
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. And it's there, they're not gonna they're not going to be around like you, you might have your your four ducks that you've been feeding for 10 years. But because they're not getting the nutrients they need. They're not going to breed they're not going to have babies, you're not going to have ducks. Like it's, you might think that oh will the ducks went away because I'm not feeding on the bread but it's good that they went away because now they're finding their own food. They'll be back if you're, if they if there's appropriate habitat and the food that they can find that they actually need. But if you keep feeding and bread and they're gonna, they're gonna eventually die, which just happens they're going to get old and die, but they're not going to be able to give you new new ducks to watch So,
so be responsible, save the environment feed ducks the responsible way. And I sound like your parent telling you this. He does research online, just you know, be conscious about the environment. Anyways, do you have any word of advice for anybody who might be interested in this hobby?
Stay off the internet.
Right after what I just said,
Yeah, no, I stay off the social media parts of the internet. So there's people that are like, it's as with everything, there's always the people that get too far into it and just hate hate, hate, hate hate. Especially hating on people that are new to it. But everyone's new. Everyone starts everyone has to learn how to how to tell apart a crow from an American Robin, like, there's things you need to learn. And don't let anyone tell you that you're not learning fast enough. Because learning takes time. And it takes it takes effort. And just do it. Just go bird.
Just go outside. Enjoy it. You're absolutely right. Everybody goes at their own speed and especially for birding. It's one of those. It's like fishing. You have to be patient.
Exactly. Yeah, you're not going to learn it all in one day, you're not going to catch all the fish in one day you're gonna
there's gonna be a learning curve and some days you're gonna see more birds and others and it's just perfectly normal. It's a learning experience. Exactly. Now we talked about this at the beginning of the episode, but I'll mention it again at the end. Do you have any social media links or websites or projects that you would love to share with the listeners you can even promote your hotel if you like?
Yeah, so again, our social media accounts I've got Instagram Hannah goes birding and Eric goes birding. Facebook hen and air go birding. Twitter at we go birding, our website, go birding, podcast calm. The hotel that I manage with my wife. Her family's hotel is the seabreeze Court. We're in Cannon Beach, Oregon. If you're ever visiting Cannon Beach, we give a birder discount just give us a call direct and we'll we'll let you know. Let us know that you're a birder and we'll we'll give you a little bit of a discount on your room. And, I guess one more plug for for Hannah's team, the women instead For the champions of the flyway, they're always there looking for more donations. They're trying to raise money for the step Eagle. You can find them at at the website change champions of the flyway. I don't have the URL right offhand, but But yeah, they're the women in step. They're definitely looking for more donations. for them. The first all Women's International birding, competitive birding team does perfect. I'll put all that information in the description below. And just out of curiosity, when is that event happening? That's the end of March. So we're like, almost a little bit more than a month out from the competition right now.
Well, this is a little I wouldn't say it's awkward, but I tend to record my episodes way ahead of schedule, and this one will come out in July. So, you know, is there another event coming up that people can come support afterwards?
There will there will there will be another champions in the flyway next year? That I don't know. I don't know any of the specifics about it yet. We'll find They amount after the event this year, but we are the champions of the flyways a fantastic event to support even if even if we're not competing next year. It's It's a fantastic event to support. They always always building money towards conservation for different, different species. Every year, there's a million things you could donate your money too.
Well, in that case, once it does come along, you can just send me a link I my objective is always to support my guests, no matter what, throughout the rest of my life or the rest of the podcast. It doesn't matter if there's something that comes up like hey, Alex, there's a new event, there's a new thing. We did a promotion for this, this and this, I'm like, Okay, I'll add that in the description below. So people who are listening because this podcast is gonna be listen to people in the future, and maybe 10 years from now you're like, Oh, what's this? Oh, and then go check it out. So yeah, just send me that link whenever it's ready, and then we'll just share it with the world.
Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you.
And for the last question. Do you have any questions for me about birding?
So when are we going to go? That's That's my question. Well, if
you ever come to Ottawa, I'm always done. Like, I remember this one experience stuck in my brain like it was my first I guess. I don't know if it's called birding, but it was my first like, Whoa birds are awesome experience. So back in my parents house I remember one morning I'm like, I just keep hearing like chirping like, like painful chirping or like tweeting with some sort of bird and then I like for good 20 minutes and then I go outside I see a cat is attacking a baby bluejay i don't know i don't like and my neighbor my my one of my best friends saw that too. And we were like looking at each other like in a movie like, quick look, we knew exactly what to do. We both went back into our houses. We got our Super Soaker filter dealt with water and try to scare away the cat. So the cat ran away but the cat was hanging around. So we're like playing defense while my dad came to try to get a box to put the bird in the box and then we brought it to a like Animal Hospital. And the care of the bird i think is like a week or so later. All we hear is like chirping to treat you like that and we look out the window there are four Blue Jays. Just sitting on the fence looking right into our window chirping. I don't know if that's like a thing or it's just coincidence, but for us is like, Oh my god, I just say thank you. We don't know. But it was just so cool.
Yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, the cats are definitely destructive to birds. We keep our cats inside for that reason, among many other reasons.
Yeah, I remember we had a neighbor's cat on a little off topic. But every now and then, like in the morning, we'd find dead bats on the ground because apparently the cats go hunting for bats.
Yeah, keep your cats inside.
Don't let them teach them not to attack birds. I don't know that's possible. But yes,
they're hyper aggressive predators. You just need to keep them inside. keep them entertained with lasers.
cats love lasers.
Apparently. So do ya know?
My wife uses it on me all the time. I get easily distracted. But yes, so there you have it. Another body with a hobby. Thank you so much, Eric, for coming on and just sharing your knowledge and your passion about birding. I really had a great time talking to you. If you guys want to learn more about Eric, go check them out. Like he's got a bunch of links. I'll put all those in the description below. And if you'd like to be on this podcast or have any questions at all, you can send me an email at Tom for your email@example.com. And of course, if you like the podcast and want to show some support, leaving reviews always good. I'll even take a negative review. It helps build my podcasts, figure out what works for me what doesn't work for me. The idea is I want to make this a good experience for everybody. And of course, so weird segue. I also sell merchandise with the time for your hobby logo on it on things you didn't know you didn't need, so why not? And all that information will be in the description below. So once again, thank you so much, Eric.
Thank you. So Until the next episode,
make some time for your hop. Take care.