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Murphy’s Laws of Birding

Murphy’s law is an adage in Western culture that broadly states that if anything can go wrong, it will. “If there’s more than one possible outcome of a job or task, and one of those outcomes will result in disaster or an undesirable consequence, then somebody will do it that way.” It is most often cited as “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”.

That is the general description for what Murphy’s Law is. But how does this adage relate to birding? Here are some examples:

1. If the least-experienced birder in your birding group wants you to identify a bird they spotted in their binoculars and you take the time to help them out, the bird will turn out to be a Brown-Headed Cowbird, and you will have missed out on that rare migrant you have been trying to spot all day.

Brown-headed Cowbird

2. If you are the least-experienced birder on your expedition, and you’re too embarrassed to ask a veteran birder to help you identify a bird because you’re worried they’ll say, “Oh, that’s a Northern Cardinal,” you’ll realize, as the bird is flying away, that you were looking at what would have been a life bird, if only you knew what it was!

3. You decide to make a spontaneous stop at a hot birding locale on the way home from work. As you are climbing out of the car, you can tell it’s going to be a real birdy day out. That’s when you realize you left your bins at home!

4. After that last time, you make sure to have your bins on hand, but…where are all the birds?

5. Your group has been trying to spot a Blackburnian Warbler all day, but no one sees it…until you make a quick trip to the outhouse, and you’re the only one who misses it!

6. Rain, wind, snow, sleet, hail, extreme heat, extreme cold…whichever one you were dreading the most is what you get on the first day off to go birding you’ve had in weeks.

7. Muddy boots, sunburn, wood ticks, mosquito bites, sore feet…these are the elements that are a part of birding that you could do without, but you will always get!

8. One for the bird photographers and one that has happened to us one too many times: you have that skulking White-eyed Vireo finally out in the open, posed in perfect lighting and your camera battery goes dead.

So birding has its downs, that’s for sure, but no true birder would ever give up their passion because of a few pitfalls. Sometimes the biggest disasters make for the most memorable stories to share with other birders.

Feel free to share some of your own “Murphy Moments” in the comments!!

4 Comments

  1. June 3, 2008    

    I don’t tend to have problems, as my outings aren’t focused on birding, specifically. Sighting, photographing & enjoying birds is a nice “bonus” to our outings. I guess that doesn’t really make me a birder though…

  2. Michelle Michelle
    June 4, 2008    

    I have to agree with the Murphy’s law idea. Recently our camera stopped working. While waiting for it to be repaired, We have been birding. Since the camera has been out of commission, the birds have been more plentiful and posing so nicely. It’s like they are mocking me.

  3. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    June 5, 2008    

    Lana – If you enjoy birds, your a birder. You may not be “hardcore” but enjoying and caring about them is often enough

    Michelle – Totally true!! Hopefully you get that camera fixed soon… we want to see some more pics!!

  4. June 6, 2008    

    Your post has me laughing,though I’m sorry that all these things had to happen to you! Better luck next time!

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