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the birders and the boomers go birding

The birders and the boomers go birding. By Julie Seyler.

By Margo D. Beller

I enjoy a good walk in the woods with my binoculars. If my husband comes along, even better. But I get really annoyed when we find ourselves in a crowd.

We used to be considered unusual in our birding habit, but in recent years we’ve learned we are far from alone.

My husband and I, both a few years past 50, have been known to be the youngest people in an area looking for a particular bird when we go on vacation. That is thanks to having no children and being able to travel when people with kids can’t.

But that is very different on the weekends. We have found serious birders we can respect. More often we are forced to travel with flocks of families and less-respectful people around our age.atop the mountain

I can’t speak for why the families are out there. They may be trying to teach the kids about “nature“ but too often the kids are running ahead and screaming while their parents are hanging back on their phones.

As for the boomers, some, like me, may want to be challenged outdoors and look for something special that keeps them moving.

But more often it seems to be all about the cameras.

Either childless couples like us or whose children have left the nest – seem to have bought into the idea that we can use our money to do whatever we want now.

Want to tour Belize? There’s are lots of birder tours that will take you down there just as winter is coming on in the north. When you’re not snorkeling or lounging on the beach or checking out real estate you can be walked or driven through a rain forest, looking for birds you may or may not see back home. (Many northern birds, like these people, go south for the winter.)

Just as these “active adults” have bought into the idea of the large-screen TV and the computer-laden “crossover,” they want the smartphone and the point-and-shoot camera so they can travel the world capturing the birds, adding them to their life lists and displaying them on their Facebook or Flickr pages.

These are the people the medical companies love, the ones urged to replace their aching hips and their balky knees and take this pill so they can keep doing everything they did when they were younger.

These are the folks who will clamber over rocks and leave the trails to bushwack into tick-infested woods, eroding the eco-system. They can afford the expensive equipment, even if they don’t know how to use it.

I know, not every boomer is like this. Many just like to go to natural places where they can walk completely oblivious to the birds that are scattering in front of them because their dogs are running off the leash.

Then they wonder why people like me yell at them.

It’s why my husband and I do our best to avoid them.