Many people associate with nature – they might enjoy camping, scenic drives, or rugged hikes. The highest degree of nature lovers/naturalists are birders. But what is a birder?
Many people that call themselves birders (or bird-watchers) usually do one or all of the following:
- Go outside to find birds
- Identify found birds to the best of their abilities
- Seek out new locations in the hopes of finding new birds
- Keep a lifelist or in some way quantify bird sightings either verbally or written
- Acknowledge that some birds are in decline and the environment needs some help
Unfortunately, this is where many birders stop. They love seeing birds for a number of reasons, they know there are environmental problems but don't really know what to do about them. Many birders might fall into what we call the "Generate Awareness Syndrome" – they talk about environmental problems, often blaming a political party, some business, or the general population all together. They feel they are doing their part – they are informing others and generating a lot of awareness.
Generate Awareness Syndrome
- Bringing awareness to a problem is enough to combat it – someone else can do the dirty work
- Being hypocritical is OK as long as #1 is being followed
- Action is for others – I deserve what I have and nobody can take it away from me
This brings us to another point – conservation vs. environmentalism. The two might seem closely related but there is one major variance among them. Environmentalism is about generating awareness while conservation is about action.
Can a birder really call themself a birder if they aren't a conservationist? Is awareness really enough to solve problems? How can environmentalism improve anything without concrete action?