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Is it ‘different’ for female birders?

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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 16:10   #1
Deb Burhinus
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Is it ‘different’ for female birders?

I came across this really good article about the experiences of female birders - some of which (sadly) I can certainly relate to but there’s a lot of positive too.

I’d love to hear from some of the other females here of some of your own general feelings about birding and whether being female in the ‘birding world’ has challenges of its own? Or just whether you agree or disagree with anything the article says ...

http://blog.aba.org/2013/06/open-mic...-mcdonald.html

(Obviously guys are welcome to express their views about the article too!)
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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 16:29   #2
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From the article 'Most birders are women. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2007 report, “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis,” 54% of birders are women'.


Not in the UK they're not!!!

People who go on birding holidays, are not always regular birders, in fact, I've met people who only ever 'bird' on such trips, never at home, including men.

My wife is a passive birder, more photographer but if she took to it properly, she'd be extremely good and has a much better ear for calls than I do.
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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 16:58   #3
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Another man's perspective on the question:

- Britain is a place where many women fear to go into the countryside alone (which is in my view the best bit of birding though I also enjoy the company of friends): which limits some of their options.

- The deep motivation for birding may not be the same as for men: to me a lot of it is very much sublimation of the hunting instinct. This leads men into the listing, patchworking, surveying areas - all involve data capture of some kind - the data is itself a trophy. What gets women into birding?

- the extant overwhelming domination numerically of the active birding scene by men could itself be off-putting?

More then that, I dunno but would be interested to learn.

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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 17:22   #4
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I encounter very few female birders compared to males - maybe one in ten, or even less. Obviously very different to the situation in the USA.
But I get the impression that a far higher proportion of professional bird scientists are women. Are women attracted to birding/ornithology more as a job than a hobby?

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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 17:36   #5
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Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
From the article 'Most birders are women. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2007 report, “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis,” 54% of birders are women'.
I read that report back in 2007 and if I recall correctly, their definition of birding includes people who casually look at birds at their feeders, many not even knowing what species they’re seeing.

In my experience birding in the US, and even on international birding trips, the vast majority of “hardcore” birders are men. Over the years I’ve rarely encountered female birders in the field. Most who show up on Audubon bird outings are mildly interested and aren’t familiar with even the common birds.

Of course, this is a generalization. I have met a few hardcore female birders, but they seem to be few and far between.

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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 18:04   #6
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I wonder how many BF members are female and how many are male?
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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 18:42   #7
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Another quote from the article..'Women are often afraid to bird in some areas, but strong field skills are developed in part by birding in a variety of places. Debi Shearwater brought up the fact that women venturing into secluded areas do face real threats. Phoebe Snetsinger was gang-raped in Papua New Guinea, and many excellent birding spots have a reputation for being unsafe.

The actual fact is that there are some places that are considered unsafe for men too, especially New Guinea. I personally know of one very capable man who has been the target of a mugging abroad so it's not unique to females.

Most women have not the slightest interest in field birding in my experience and why do you need a mentor to get in to birding? One statement I do agree with is that there are cliques in birding, but that effects men too.

On a personal note, one of th best guides I've ever had was a woman, Cecilia Herrera in Venezuala, an incredible knowledge of calls.
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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 19:00   #8
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In answer to the questions “Why do women get into birding?” I suspect the reasons are as varied as men!

I have only been birding a couple of years - not abroad - but must admit I have felt occasionally anxious when birding at dusk on my own. But then I think maybe some men would also feel the same? Especially in new places, I rarely feel uncomfortable in the places I now know well. I live in Birmingham, UK and would not venture to parts of the city on my own after dark!

I do not know why fewer women bird than men, this is anecdotally the case for me in the UK, but I would doubt whether safely is a large factor? I also take walking holidays and often see lone women hikers?

Has there been any research in the UK - does there need to be any?
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Old Sunday 1st December 2019, 21:50   #9
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Some really interesting responses here - Kits I wondered about the ratio of members to - the female members certainly seem less vocal on the rare bird forums and the identification forum - is it for fear of being embarrassed by making mistakes and worse being ‘shown’ up by another contributor because of it - I’m certain the male contributors have that fear too but maybe there’s another element at play that makes it tougher for female members to contribute so much? Isn’t it about respect at the end of the day?

Julie, I too don’t think ‘safety’ is a big factor either - it certainly isnt for me, either in the UK or abroad - my only fear is having my scope or bins grabbed from me - but the more isolated areas I’ve birded over the years, ie up mountains and forests on my own, the less likely I felt that to be a concern - like you, I’m more worried walking home from work with my bins round my neck and having those ‘mugged’ off me by some of the more colourful teenage elements in town.

I do feel that there are some individuals (including women!) who hold a few presumptions about female birders (yes there are good numbers of female scientists/ornithologists but they are often also excellent birders )- guys many of us do have an ‘interest in field birding’, are pretty ‘hardcore’ in terms of hours spent in the field and locations birded, as well as having deep and broader ornithological interests as a whole.

As regards ‘mentoring’, this is not a patronising position that females somehow ‘need looking after’ , I know from all my other experiences in life, there is always something you can learn from someone with more or simply different experiences and this is equally true of male birders as it is for females. In fact, I am daily humbled by the experience and scientific knowledge of some of those around me. It’s just harder for females birders I think to find niche in hardcore birding circles as at the end of the day, for most men, birding is a pursuit that allows them some ‘alone’ time with their male mates away from the responsibilities of work and family.

I do think there is a paucity of female listers or twitchers (I dont bother anymore) and may be that’s another aspect linked to instinctive gender differences in the approach where ‘process’ has a greater benefit than ‘result’ - although for me, it’s not enough just to get out and ‘enjoy’ a days birding, I also need the ‘result’! (but perhaps it’s just that women on the whole aren’t such anoraks ).
The presumption that females aren’t such prolific birders because of their greater invisibility however is disingenuous to those of us who do work the patch constantly and do approach birding on a continual learning curve.
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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 08:15   #10
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I'm so glad I'm not a "hardcore" birder. It sounds way too competitive and more like professional sport than something done purely for pleasure. I don't consider myself to be a birder at all really. I consider myself to be an amateur naturalist whose main interest happens to be birds. My interest just evolved naturally because of the way I spent my childhood. It wasn't something I decided to "get into". It just happened.

I generally don't keep lists (except my novelty work list) or pursue rarities or have any interest in travelling far. I prefer to spend quality time observing the commonplace. I find there is plenty of interest in the small group of islands where I live (the British Isles) to keep me occupied for several lifetimes. I do sometimes contribute information to research projects but usually only in an anonymous way.

I've rarely felt patronised or belittled when out in the field and have never really thought there is any cliquishness or pecking order amongst people of either gender who seem to be enjoying the natural world in similar ways to myself. People are usually happy to share their knowledge in friendly ways and equally are usually happy to listen to me when they are the ones asking the questions.

There are of course wider societal issues regarding attitudes to women even in the UK. Some people seem to be quite keen on trying to make me fearful about going to remote places by myself although I've never felt in any danger in such places. Urban areas are a different matter altogether though and some of the worst experiences I have had have been whilst I have been working. A small number of men seem to have very strong opinions as to whether a woman should be allowed to do jobs like driving trains and I have certainly been verbally abused and spat at by such men.

As far as my field skills and knowledge of the natural world is concerned though I haven't really encountered any serious issues (the internet is a different matter altogether of course). Maybe my different experience is related to being an amateur naturalist rather than a birder.

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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 14:20   #11
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Lightbulb

Whoa !

Given that on average, 83% of all statistics on generalisations and stereotyping are wrong, I have to wonder if the article riddled as it is with tangential rabbit holes, even has anything of real validity to say ?

This stuff annoys me equally as all the leadership and management guff written wrt to genders and even personality types.

I'm probably not going to shed too much light on women being a 'birder' ..... what even is a 'birder' anyway ?

I just like going for walks in nature (and lately I really would like to go for walks - much longer walks) and identifying what's there - particularly if it is something new or unusual.

The only time I have ever kept records is for patches involving conservation /rehabilitation work, climate, and breeding observations, hollows etc. Much of my id motivation stemmed from raptors and other photography. Apart from conservation records, it matters not a jot with me if it gets shared or not ......

I'm not a member of any birding clubs but know people who are, as well as people who aren't. I do enjoy going to the Birdfairs etc (partly as a gear head, and for the nice location) - but I think that's mainly because we are struggling to even make them a biennial event at the moment ......


P.S. For the first time today I had a young female bus driver on the regular route I am taking of late - and she drove like a bat out of heck ! - nearly putting a few through the front window. She could have quietly used a less 'competitive' right foot ! lol

P.P.S. I really liked Rashida Jones in The Big Year (thought the whole movie was awesome actually) , though she seems to be given pretty short shrift in the promos .....
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https://www.traileraddict.com/the-bi...-rashida-jones
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Last edited by Chosun Juan : Monday 2nd December 2019 at 16:37. Reason: P.S. , and P.P.S.
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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 16:42   #12
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Whoa !

Given that on average, 83% of all statistics on generalisations and stereotyping are wrong, I have to wonder if the article riddled as it is with tangential rabbit holes, even has anything of real validity to say ?

This stuff annoys me equally as all the leadership and management guff written wrt to genders and even personality types.


Chosun
I so wanted to say that!
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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 18:10   #13
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Being more of a house-husband these days i am fine do do as much or as little birding as i want..........as long as the tea has been prepared for when The Bride hoves into view

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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 18:43   #14
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I think there are many factors, many of which have been mentioned. But re differences with the US, one of the things that most struck me in a two month stay at Cape May was how many more keen women birders there were compared to the UK.
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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 19:15   #15
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Years ago I did walk around the local area alone, but knowing that I was unlikely to meet anyone else. Nowadays, there are quite a number of poaching/ hare coursing incidents which discourage me quite a bit. But the main reason is... a bloke can easily nip behind a tree..... we can't! We have to creep into the thickest undergrowth!
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Old Monday 2nd December 2019, 19:48   #16
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Years ago I did walk around the local area alone, but knowing that I was unlikely to meet anyone else. Nowadays, there are quite a number of poaching/ hare coursing incidents which discourage me quite a bit. But the main reason is... a bloke can easily nip behind a tree..... we can't! We have to creep into the thickest undergrowth!
There's a specialist market for an app on such thickets, surely?

In Oz last month (Cape York), when the vehicle stopped, the tour leader simply said "Those who stand go downtrack, those who don't go uptrack and those who don't know, wait until everyone else has come back...!"
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Old Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 07:07   #17
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I have seen very knowledgable female birders in the past, they do know there stuff. When I went twitching for a Ring Necked Duck a female Birder asked me if I seen it and I showed her were it was. Last month when I was watching The Kingfisher at The Botanics there were female birders there too, and I do have female friends who are birders.
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Old Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 18:19   #18
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There's a specialist market for an app on such thickets, surely?

In Oz last month (Cape York), when the vehicle stopped, the tour leader simply said "Those who stand go downtrack, those who don't go uptrack and those who don't know, wait until everyone else has come back...!"
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Old Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 18:51   #19
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Originally Posted by MJB View Post
There's a specialist market for an app on such thickets, surely?

In Oz last month (Cape York), when the vehicle stopped, the tour leader simply said "Those who stand go downtrack, those who don't go uptrack and those who don't know, wait until everyone else has come back...!"
MJB
The guide I mentioned in Venezuela, Cecilia, had no hang ups at all and would confidently inform us 'stay here, I'm going for a poo'.......!
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Old Tuesday 3rd December 2019, 19:22   #20
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But the main reason is... a bloke can easily nip behind a tree..... we can't! We have to creep into the thickest undergrowth!
Thanks for all the replies - very diverse views but maybe Mary’s is the easiest answer to the thread question

(and Perhaps Andyadcock’s last post was more information than was required )
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 13:18   #21
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as mentioned it also poses the question as to what we mean by "birder". I get the impression, that whilst the majority of twitches are very much male dominated, when just generally walking around reserves there is a much more even gender demographic, although it generally tends to be the men that have the big scopes/lenses (make of that what you will!)
My OH for example would not describe herself as a birder, would hate the very idea of going on a twitch, yet she is very in tune with the birds around our garden and local countryside. Whilst not worried about swatting up on her ID skills (still can't get her head around hirundines, other than swifts are high up and go scree scree and swallows go twitter twitter) she knows if she has seen something unusual or different and has sufficient fieldcraft that she can usually ask the right questions or describe it well enough to work it out. She very much enjoys generally observing the birds and other wildlife that we come across when out walking, and TBF if she was bothered about it would actually have a pretty reasonable list.
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Old Thursday 12th December 2019, 11:50   #22
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Not sure I'm representative

When I go to our local bird club meetings it is roughly 50/50 mix but on walks to local sites I'm clearly in minority.

I would rarely go out on my own walking or to a local twitch where as David regularly go.
Also when I was doing some Owl surveys last year (some listening in the dark at night) I would also expect David to come with me - that I think may be main difference.

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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 12:19   #23
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There are lots of female birders / bird photographers in Hong Kong including one member of my bird race team - and we're currently the reigning champions!

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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 12:42   #24
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Been intending not to post on this thread because it will help slew the results the wrong way more ...

(Currently think it's 8f : 10m posters)


The UK it certainly is a male-dominated hobby. USA not at all - in fact at a state level thing it can often be the other way, and going up through all the levels. In the current (or last years) 'ABA Big Year' thread at one point I believe something like 7 out of the 10 top year listers (all over 600 at that point) were female. Some of those were in couples (often with the female partner being the 'lead' birder) and some were independent ...
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Old Saturday 14th December 2019, 17:57   #25
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Just checked the Bubo Listing version of the 2019 UK year listers and there are five or possibly six (not sure of the name Gladwynn sorry) females in the top 100, so very different to the USA.
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