Birds, Tattoos and Punk Rock Birder Paul Riss

New this year at the Biggest Week in American Birding was something unique and fun – a bird tattoo contest! A crowd of bird-tattooed folk showed up along with many spectators to see who would win the big prize – an awesome pair of EO Ranger binoculars from Eagle Optics!

Three judges were on hand to see who had the best bird tat: Paul Riss (Punk Rock Big Year), Sharon “Birdchick” Stiteler, and Rue Mapp from Outdoor Afro. A very cool group of judges. Two runners up received Birdchick’s new book: 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know.

Not just bird tracks – crossbill feet!

Later that evening we attended Paul Riss’ talk on his Punk Rock Big Year, inspiring all people to love birds and the awesome movie he is making about his big year. Paul blows all typical sterotypes about birders out of the water. His talk included clips from his movie – which we cannot WAIT to see!

In 2011, Paul Riss embarked upon a journey. The journey would last 365 days and it would take him into every possible place in Ontario, Canada that a wild bird might possibly be. The journey was a Big Year, and Paul documented his effort in some pretty serious detail. Why? There are a few reasons. Mostly to try and change the stereotypes of what a Birdwatcher is. You know, the people in Tilley hats thing. There’s nothing wrong with that birder, but not all birders are created from that mold. Secondly, he wanted to see what it was like to make a documentary film. The third reason was to bring this very enjoyable past time to a younger generation. And last, but not least, to make people aware of how fragile and important our winged friends are to the environment. – Biggest Week in American Birding

Birders come from all walks of life and have many different interests, personalities, and looks. Birding is for everyone and the best part of the program was seeing that passion for birding is universal and there is no specific “type” of person who loves birds. We have witnessed elitism in birding but I think it is dwindling; helped along by people like Paul Riss.

Paul is doing exactly what we hope other birders will do. No, not tattoo their body and make a documentary about it. That’s Paul’s thing. But bird and spread birding love no matter who you are or what “type” of person you might be!

Check out Paul’s site – Punk Rock Big Year – Also Birdchick’s post – Judging a Bird Tattoo Contest and Outdoor Afros Take on Biggest Week for more on this awesome event!

Dakota with Paul Riss in 2011

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