Mixing Birding and Business Where Others Don’t Care to Go

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling  •  03.26.09 | 3:01 PM ET

Photo by Sophia Dembling

I love the idea of bird-watching.

I love birds, I love being out in nature, I love having something to do while I’m out in nature. Too bad I’m really bad at bird-watching. I can spot only the most obvious birds, I can identify only the most easily identifiable. Subtleties escape me. (What color are their feet? Are you kidding me?) If I’m with real bird-watchers and they do the spotting and identifying, I am capable of watching. That’s about it.

I love it anyway.

So I think the people in this New York Times article are cool—they mix birding with business trips. Birder and leadership training consultant, Cyndi Lubecke, of Prospect Heights, Illinois, likes to choose assignments in places with good birding. “My colleagues have loved me for that,” she said, “because my choices were places like Toledo, Ohio, and Fayetteville, Ark.—places they didn’t want to go.”

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be bird-watching (in my own lame fashion) and reporting from the first Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma. (And yes, there is a Greater Prairie Chicken, too. It’s larger and more abundant than the lesser variety.) The birds will be singing and dancing for love. Really. Stay tuned.

Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

9 Comments for Mixing Birding and Business Where Others Don’t Care to Go

pam 03.26.09 | 8:20 PM ET

Sophia, we should hang out together. Really. In my backyard. You’ll have to bring your own binoculars, though.

Sophia Dembling 03.26.09 | 8:24 PM ET

I have binoculars. I have a bird book. I just got no skills.

Melanie 03.27.09 | 10:06 AM ET

In the south west part of Nova Scotia, there are bald eagles all winter long feeding near the farms. That’s one kind of bird anyone would recognize in an instant!

Jennifer 03.27.09 | 10:09 AM ET

Ha Sophia, I feel your lack of birding abilities!  I never was into birds or birding, and even after an intense class in Ornithology in college (taught by a professor we all dubbed the Bird Nazi) I never could get into them.  Even after a stint as a keeper working with birds, I couldn’t get into them!  My identification abilities begin and end with robins and cardinals! :-)  People who can glance at a half obstructed silhouette of a bird for a fraction of a second and identify it correctly amaze me!  But I’ve come to accept that that will never be me!  I’m more drawn to “them with big teeth and fur”, and those I can identify with remarkable accuracy!

Sophia Dembling 03.27.09 | 10:09 AM ET

Oh yes, I love seeing bald eagles. I did an Alaska cruise one year and saw lots. It was funny—the first bald eagle we saw was a huge thrill. By the end of the cruise, they were practically as ho-hum as pigeons. We stopped by a fish processing plants and there were hundreds of them, circling the stink.

Sophia Dembling 03.27.09 | 10:13 AM ET

Jennifer, do you think those people are just bluffing? I mean, they tell us that half-obstructed silhouette is a pink-breasted nobnibbler, but who’s to prove it? We have to just take their word for it…

Sophia Dembling 03.27.09 | 10:16 AM ET

And I really didn’t intend that made-up name to sound as lewd as it does. Blush.

Jennifer 03.27.09 | 10:53 AM ET

LOL!  Next time I’m giving my birding friends a hard time about their “obsession” I’m going to use the “pink-breasted nobnibbler” to make fun!  I’m mean that way (but I get what I give so it’s okay)!  That’s great!

Jenna Schnuer 03.27.09 | 1:16 PM ET

Sophia—You’re a dirty bird. (Ba dump bump. I’ll be here all week!)

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.