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Advice for someone who has a hard time ID’ing birds ... (1 Viewer)

Wow. The last two posts are really interesting. I just realized that I might have a mild form of prosopagnosia myself. In any case, my husband is considerably better at recognizing human faces than I am. One of my frustrations with movies is that I have a hard time recognizing characters when they change their clothes/hairstyles and thus sometimes find movies hard to follow. I have also had the experience where people start talking to me like they know me and I just don’t know who they are (not frequently, thankfully). My husband doesn’t have this problem at all and in fact has often expressed astonishment at my ability not to “get it.”

LOL, joke’s on me, I guess. In general, it is probably more useful to be able to recognize human, than bird faces .... 😀
LOL, joke’s on me, I guess. In general, it is probably more useful to be able to recognize human, than bird faces .... 😀
not so sure about that, I have talked to hundreds of people in my life that stopped me somewhere shouting my name, and when my wife asks me later who they were, many many times I can only say: 'I have no idea' :rolleyes:. I don't feel handicaped in any way and I know that the same happened to my late father. I have far less problems with birds (though bird calls stand a mystery to me) :)
Hmm, I seem to have the opposite dilemma- I’m the person yelling hi to complete strangers in the street because I did recognise them - as someone else! Maybe you were one of them Tom 😂

Perhaps this occurs with my birdwatching too? I’m now wondering about all the rarities I missed in flocks of birds over the years because I thought they were all a species I knew 😏
A couple of things

First, well done for at least getting him to go birding with you - it seems to be more your passion than his perhaps. The important thing isn’t to ID everything in the field but to primarily enjoy the general experience of birdwatching. People have different levels of engagement by which they achieve that. If your husband is happy just to accompany you without feeling the need to ID every bird you guys see, it would be a shame if his enjoyment was made less by being under any kind of pressure to be a better birder or any suggestion he is doing something wrong by being less motivated than you. At the end of the day, he presumably is enjoying just relaxing in the outdoors and spending quality time with you. I get it’s frustrating to go out birding all the time with someone less skilled so I would strongly suggest you find other birders who you can learn from and go birdwatching with also to balance your own enjoyment in the hobby.

As for tips to improve ID skills and general advice, you may find more help on the Tips for New Birders forum (this forum is for ID queries of specific birds). However, remember that you can lead a horse to water .... 😏

Just wondering if color blindness might be one thing that hinders him. My memory is a problem for me AND I am not equipped yet with good bins but getting my brain away from usual topics and onto birds is like meditation is for others. It brings focus to my thoughts. His motivation may be to stay close to you and being right might be unimportant.
This thread has been very interesting to read, perhaps because I can relate so well to the matter at hand. Your husband's career choice explains a lot of what you mention. As he is a computer science person it makes perfect sense that making, keeping and organizing lists is just part of the way his brain manages to make sense of the world.

I was encouraged to change majors in university to computer science after finding a Fortran class easy, but ending up going down a different engineering path. Skipping details, I was able, through actual hands-on experience, to develop a real attention to detail, which lead to a career Quality Management in precision machine shops. However, at the same time, it can be shocking at the things that I "see", but that just don't register in my brain. My wife just walked by a couple of minutes ago, but I couldn't describe what she was wearing as her being here registered, but apparently, to my mind, what people are wearing is totally unimportant. My police captain brother, on the other hand, with just a quick glance will be able to describe the person in great detail. My other brother is highly social and needs to interact with other people. I am exactly the opposite. The point being that each person is unique in the way their brain works.

I also find photography greatly enhances the birding experience for me. It just makes the whole exercise more fun for me, even if it serves no particular useful purpose. In fact, I now find that the ID for that unidentified bird buried in the foliage suddenly pops into my mind as I am concentrating on the viewfinder and struggling to get focus and a good aspect and as my mind suddenly matches what I see with a previous photo I've taken. Pun intended, it sharpens my focus on the single object of interest. Being an engineer, not a biologist, the concept of the field manual illustrations not always being just like what I was seeing was also difficult for me to get my head around in the beginning. Finally, I have come to the understanding that biology is messy. Even now that I am starting to be able to field ID the common finds at a glance and at a distance as they fly off, I will still often be found at my computer struggling to make an ID of an unknown even with a good photo to work from, while mumbling invectives at what are recognized as quality field guides. My brain still wants things to be consistently the same each time and at the same time I know that nature just doesn't cooperate.
From my perspective, the best suggestion that I have seen here is one I was already thinking of as I read through the thread. Let him keep and organize the lists for both of you and be your photographer. He can still spot potential targets and point them out for you to positively ID. You can help him to get proper IDs on his photos so he can feel that greater sense of completion that his mind will get once all is properly curated. He may never be especially good at IDing anything new to his experience, but I am sure his skills will improve if he is encouraged to focus on neatly organizing things in his mind. Don't fight it, work with it. Melding two entirely different skill sets could lead to an amazing team!
Just wondering if color blindness might be one thing that hinders him.
That is a great point that I should have included in my previous as I have real struggles with distinguishing certain shades of blue and/or green. My brother has always delighted in teasing me by asking me "What color is that?" It can make certain IDs particularly difficult. In short he literally may see the world differently than you do.
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