I have heard more often these last couple of years, on how this person is this, and that person is that. Take for instance a local Birder. They will get up on a soap-box and proclaim how they belong to this Bird Group and that Bird Group. They will tell you about their “LIFE-LIST” of spotted Birds. The will most likely show you pictures of all the different Birds they have seen. Some will be Rare Birds, and many of the shots will be extra special shots of extra special birds. But are they real Birders?
I am by no-means picking on Birders. This applies to Mushroom Hunters, Bikers, Nature Nuts and many other Forest Groups. I have had many, many conversations with all types of various Outdoor Group members, who proclaim to be the ultimate in being that specific Outdoor individual. But are they?
I have thought very hard about this question. I used to wonder if I myself was a true Birder, or Mushroom Hunter or Naturalist. Since I do not belong to any of these specific Outdoor Groups, have a Degree in any of these things, or have spent a lifetime focused almost solely on these specific subjects. This made me question whether I was truly any of these things.
Then I realized that most of the people that actually claim to be these Outdoor things, such as a Birder…..really are not. A Collector maybe. A gatherer of Bird pictures or sightings, but not really a true Birder.
You see…….If one claimed to be a real Birder (or any other specific Outdoor enthusiast, this person would first and foremost have to be concerned with the Habitats and Natural Resources that cause these critters or Life to exist and thrive.
A Bird population needs quality Habitat, Food sources and these days…..protection from the many hazards MAN puts into the Birds world. You cannot truly be a Birder and then pollute the habitats Birds need to survive. You do not let Invasive Species like the Autumn Olive grow untouched, and say you are a Mushroomer, as the Autumn Olive chokes out the very Habitats that support a healthy, annual Mushroom growths.
This goes for almost every specific Outdoor living thing. Before you tell anyone that you are a Birder, Naturalist, Mushroom Hunter, or any other Outdoor enthusiast,please first tell me when was the last time you participated in an Invasive Species removal or Clean-up. Or how often have you done this kind of Habitat protection and Clean-up. Tell me a little something about what it takes to produce successful nesting and reproduction of annual youngster.
If all you can do, is show me some pictures, or tell me how many spotting adventures you have been on, or what is your total “Life-List” of Birds, Mushrooms or Wild Flowers you have spotted or collected………then do not go any further. You are as much a Birder, Naturalist or Mushroom hunter as my Doggie, who loves to run the open Forest and is excited by everything he discovers there. It all does NOTHING in helping these species flourish and reproduce, by making sure the Natural Resources are taken care of and are healthy.
I know this will not be a popular way to look at things for some people. Because it is always easiest to just go out and have fun in the Parks. It takes a true love of Mother Nature to give back regularly and help all these species reproduce each year, and migrate, to and from healthy environments.
If you are not doing these things…..believe me…….very soon all these species, Birds, Plants Trees and the diverse habitats that help produce the variety of Birds, Mushrooms and Outdoor life, will disappear. Then What? Barren Parks of Invasive Species? What will You claim to be then?