Yes, where are the GIRL birders? I'm out there with my sisters and girlfriends, but rarely do we encounter other women our age (let alone younger) in groups. I'm looking for females of the next generation, not my parent's generation (though women of this latter group are my greatest influences). Who is going to carry the birding torch into the future? Who is the next Hazel Wolf or Phoebe Snetsinger? Cornell Lab asked this question recently, how women and men approach birding differently, and the author suggests women are generally participatory (taking classes, counting in group efforts like bird census) while men engage in competitive birding contests, listing comparisons and long lens photography.
I'm looking for the gals making birding as mainstream as hiking or brunching. Where else can you combine being outdoors, sight-seeing, meditating on sights and sounds of bird life, socializing, and supporting eco-tourism in one fell swoop (using a bird pun there, totally intentional).
So how to fix this? What I suggest here is simply my take, as I realize there is a lot of room for discussion on this topic.
- Think of birding more casually. It doesn't have to be dead serious. You don't have to know everything or get everything right.
- Invite everyone to join you--even your super girlie pal who claims to hate dirt. Birding will blow her mind.
- Dress up! You aren't hiking or slogging too far on a birding trip, so you don't have to dress for cold comfort or perilous terrain (most of the time). Have fun with sartorial expression if that is your thing. Take photos!
- Make it a tailgate party and have a fabulous picnic midday, or stop at the oyster shack as your last stop and toast to an awesome day in the field.
- Think of strength (and more fun) in numbers. A woman isn't afforded the same solitude in nature that a man can take for granted (more on that here), but it is a reality of our times (and I hate that). A group outing is going to leave any uncertainty at home.
My experience of a day of birding is one of laughs, camaraderie, great food and beverage, and amazing entertainment (The birds, after all!).
Birding is about the community, as well as the birds--so it can be YOUR community.
If I frame it this way, will more women join me?