Amish are known to be avid birders. As an outdoors activity you can do with family, I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise. This might be the wrong analogy, but I’ve always imagined it as hunting without the guns.
I don’t have any statistics but it seems like it is particularly popular among Amish in Ohio. There is even an Amish Bird Symposium next month in Adams County, OH. Charles Hurst and David McConnell wrote about birding in their book on the Holmes County Amish, An Amish Paradox:
Although life on the farm always included awareness of bird life, many Amish now engage in bird-watching as a serious hobby. Amish birders sport the latest optical equipment, such as Swarovski spotting scopes and binoculars. It is not uncommon for an Amish birder to carry upwards of twenty-five hundred dollars worth of optical equipment into the field. Some Amish are highly regarded in birding circles for their skills in identifying birds by sight and sound and check the local rare bird alerts on a regular basis. Somewhat surprisingly, Amish birders are avid “listers”, keeping life lists, state lists, and annual lists of species seen, which serve as the basis for friendly competition.
I enjoy hearing the latest tallies from Amish friends but I’ve never tried it myself (“birding” for me means a trip to KFC). I like birds outside my window, but I’ve just never been pulled to go chase them around.
My impression is that it is a lot of tramping about in the woods to catch glimpses of wings flapping away (do I sound grumpy this morning?). But I suppose if you’re fitted out with the high-tech scope, it can be a lot more intense and exciting than that. Maybe I need to give it a try.
Are you a birder, or have you ever tried birding? What is the appeal?
Photo credit: Jen Goellnitz/flickr