January 4, 2008
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Here are my New Year's Resolutions for birding, 2008.  Whether you're already a birder or still just a "wanna-be," I hope you'll join me in these vows.

1--Take a non-birding friend or relative birding with you.  Pay it forward, leave a legacy, help grow the numbers of those who care about the birds and their habitat which, by the way, is our environment.

2--Buy an annual State Parks Pass and an annual Tonto National Forest Pass.  Even if you doubt you'll use it at all in a year's time.  Remember, birders are paying their own way now.  The free ride is over.

3--Volunteer to help out at a bird organization or a local birding event.  It's a cause you care about, and you'll meet some great people with common interests.

4--Bird an area you've never gone to before.  Birders are like sheep.  We all follow one another around.  Break out.  Explore a new area.

5--Take a birding-related class.  And don't limit yourself to bird identification.  There are how-to courses for painting, photography, and digiscoping, gardening for birds, eco-tourism, using the internet, and learning Photoshop.

6--Join the American Birding Association.  I know you already belong to the Audubon Society, but the ABA is the next step.  It's a little more about the history, the skills, the ethics, and yes, even the competition of birding.  A little more focused, a little more intense, but still about the environment and conservation too.

7--Make a birding trip to one of the national hotspots outside Arizona...There's an old birding aphorism which says sooner or later all bird species will show up at every birding site.  But you only have one lifetime.  Bird travel is fun, and the planning and anticipation of unseen species is half of that fun.  At the top of every serious birder's winter destination list are the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and the Florida Everglades.

8--Buy a book about some aspect of birding that has nothing to do with identification.  Start expanding your birding library with an in-depth treatment of your favorite species or family, a study of some aspect of bird behavior you find particularly fascinating, or the history of bird names.  Did you know there is a series of murder mysteries written about birdwatching?  Or that a local author whose column you read is scheduled to have his profiles of Arizona's special bird species published by University of Arizona Press this spring?

9--Buy those new binoculars or that first scope you've been thinking about.  How many lifetimes was that you have?  Check out that next level of birding optics.  It will open up a whole new world.  You'll see more birds, and you'll see them quicker and better.

10-Quit wearing white.  Fewer birds will see you, so you'll have a better chance to see them.  Birds naturally shy away from bright, reflective objects.  There's a reason hunters and wildlife photographers wear camouflage.

Best of luck with your resolutions, and I hope to see you out there in the new year.  Maybe at the Gilbert Riparian Area, maybe Boyce-Thompson Arboretum State Park, maybe even in south Texas.