BIRDFINDING IN CANADA is the name of a birding periodical magazine that was published, printed and distributed for 9 years in the 1980’s. The magazine was authored and published by a man named Gerry Bennett. I never met Gerry, but in the course of my birding life, I have met two people who knew him well. Gerry was very well-known in birding circles during his day. Part of his legacy, is the publication BIRDFINDING IN CANADA. Basically, Gerry wrote each issue (approximately 30 pages) himself, with some contributions from birders across Canada. He wrote about places to bird and what could be seen in each of these places. He tracked seasonal sightings across Canada. Each issue was filled with interesting articles.
I am going to re-print one of his articles here. Hope I am not infringing on any copyright issues. Gerry, we all you so much. Thanks.
This article appeared in the March 1986 (Vol. 6 No. 2) issue of BIRDFINDING IN CANADA:
We forget whether it was Velma Hawkins or old Josh McComb who first said, “Birders love categories.”
Whoever it was – they do! “First bird of the year,” “Most wanted species,” “Best bird of the trip,” And so on. Sorting birds (or at least names of birds) into imaginary slots is great fun.
Robert Parsons, of Winnipeg, has suggested a “Most Enjoyed” category. These are birds you never tire of seeing again and again, on matter how often. Robert names the Scarlet Tanager as an example and suggests having respondents name their Top Five.
We haven’t worked out our top five yet but it appears that Robert’s thinking somewhat parallels ours, as we’d also name the Scarlet Tanager as #1 among birds we never tire of seeing. The several dozen that might tie for second include the breeding-plumaged male Blackburnian Warbler; black phase Rough-legged Hawk in flight; drake Northern Pintail in full breeding feathers; the resplendent and cocky Steller’s Jay; and so on.
Building on the “Parons’ Approach” we can se several spin-offs:
“The Bird that impressed You Most When First Seen”
“The Bird You Worked Hardest to Find and Finally Did”
You get the idea.
Perhaps we could hear from some of our readers. To start, here are some of our own thoughts.
The Bird I Worked Hardest to Find and Finally Did: A tie between Yellow Rail and Spruce Grouse.
The Sound You Like to Hear: First returning Killdeer in spring yelling “Brig-a-dier, brig-a-dier.”
Biggest Initial Impact When First Seen: Not sure yet on this one but the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher would certainly rate.
One plus factor in sorting out the above thoughts is recounting anecdotes and recalling memories relating to the sighting. In this regard, we submit a “Bird I Lucked Into Most Easily.” On Oct. 10th, 1980, we arrived at the Vancouver Airport, on a business trip. Rented a car; drove to the hotel on Georgia St.; checked in and instantly ‘phoned the Vancouver Bird Alert number. The news was that an Ash-throated Flycatcher had turned up on Sea Island which is right beside the airport. We hung up; almost ran to the parking garage, and drove back out to Sea Island. Almost the instant we stopped we saw Wayne Weber who had just seen the bird and pointed it out. (The moral here is – always ‘phone the Hot Line from the airport – not the hotel!) Then, for an encore, Wayne took me to the Iona Island lagoons and produced a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.
What about a direct opposite? “Biggest Disappointment” Here’s one of our nominations. In 1979, I worked almost every hour of every day in the breeding season, trying to satisfy a “thirst” I’d had for years – to see how many species of birds’ active nests I could observe in Ontario. At Winisk, on James Bay, I’d been told of a Golden Eagle’s nest that was both active and easily visible. This would be the prize of the year. Peeling off a bigger chunk of my budget than I’d expected to use, I hired a local guide and canoe and, at lest the morning came when we headed upstream to experience this long-awaited reward. By noon, halfway up the route, the guide calmly announced the trip was finished due to shallow water. And, I could see he wasn’t kidding. There was no solution. There were several miles to go and the river’s banks were not passable to pedestrians. So, that was it. Not only did I have to do without the nest – but, as there never was any discussion of a guarantee, I didn’t get any money back either!
So that was one of Gerry’s articles. He had an obvious sense of humour and enjoyed so many different aspects of birding. I hope you enjoyed the article.