Sunday, August 31, 2014

Local News: Birder Believes there is not enough Cheeky Wordplay in Birding Circles

In a recent interview with Butler's Birds: Local Edition, hobbyist birder and self-described "wordsmith" Norman Ecklebaum readily agreed that while the state of birding in North America is overall on the "up-and-up," there is not enough snickering wordplay with birding vernacular:

"Look, birding is more popular now than it has ever been before. My facebook groups are booming with pictures of cardinals on feeders; my photos are getting dozens and dozens of likes; I'm really impressing the gaggles of semi-centennial ladies on my Botanical Gardens is great. I even saw a Green Heron the other day."

Despite this reassurance, there was a noticeable expression of regret, of angst in Mr. Ecklebaum's face.

"It's just...I guess I'm a bit disappointed, or maybe unfulfillmared you know? There are so many bird names you can play around with, so many doubles you can entendre, so many puns you can really grab hold of and bash a guy over the head with. I know I'm no William Birdsworth : :: pause for audible chuckles:: : but there' plenty of Goldfinch rich material out there, and I don't feel like enough birders or bird bloggers are taking advantage of it. What's really tragic is that I feel like half of my jokes go right over people's heads."
"For example, just the other day for example I was hanging out at my local park, for example, and pointing out a Rosy-faced Lovebirds to literally everyone who was walking his or her dog. I said, "More like Rosy-faced Cutebird, huh," and most people just walked right by; only a few older ladies chuckled with me. I tried changing up my approach then, for example pointing out a White-winged Dove to people and making Stevie Nicks jokes. Again, I was met with little appreciation."
"It just speaks to the overall quality of birding. I hoped that with its increasing popularity there would be more clever people like me, for example people who get bird-related humor and pursue it relentlessly. But it's just lost on so many of them; they walk by or for example continue talking like they've heard all my jokes before, like there's some sort of cap, or tasteful limit with such things."

Mr. Ecklebaum was insistant that bird-related wordplay was not, in fact, a shallow reservoir, and the misfortunate, as well as the onus, was on those people he addressed who were unreceptive to his wit: 

"Look, for example there's a song called Tern, Tern, Tern and it's actually by a band called the Byrds! That's just the tip of the example iceberg too. For example, once in my scope I had : ::tee hee:: : a pair of Boobies, and another time for example I committed a...err hem...Cardinal sin by opening my kitchen door too near my feeders and flushing the Cardinals. This other time for example I was birding with a group in south Texas and it was a kinda lame day with not many birds. It was the perfect time to try out some new bird jokes on the other likeminded people, especially because we were all stuck in a group together and looking for birds was of secondary importance to me:"

"When is the best time to buy a bird? WHEN IT"S GOING CHEEP!"
"Anybody hear about crow on the telephone pole? IT'S MAKING A LONG DISTANCE CAW!"
"How does a bird with a broken wing still land? WITH ITS SPARROWCHUTE!"
"Why do Hummingbirds hum? BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW THE WORDS!"
"What's a Great Horned's favorite subject? OWLGEBRA!"
"Why'd the bird get in trouble at school? HE GOT CAUGHT PEEPING ON A TEST!"

"A couple of people chuckled at first, so I took this as invitation to continue practicing my wit, even while our guide said something about a Tropical Parula buzzing around. Then there was less and response, and by my last joke nobody was laughing, or even looking at me. They were focussed on something else. It was the worst day of birding ever."

The modern birder, his focus in the right place?

That's when I realized that these people couldn't have simply been focussed on the actual birds, the thing they travelled and paid money for. They must not have gotten my jokes. This led me to the belief that we need much wider education and spreading of bird-related humor. Starting with Audubon Societies and bird blogging. Because birds have wings; they use them. We won't always get to see what we want to see, but we can always chuckle and give each other attention, lots of attention, big irradiating piles of attention, in the mean time."


  1. Replies
    1. I can't say I do Seagull, and in fact I'm not yet convinced of the merit of Reservoir Dogs as a worthwhile piece of art either.

      Do tell--

    2. I think you could appreciate this:

    3. Good call Seagull, that gave me some chuckles. I do enjoy some good parody, especially when its esoteric enough to make me feel marginally smart or clever for understanding it!

      Thanks for the link.

  2. Poor Norman. 4 out of every 3 mathematicians can relate as our math jokes are under-appreciated. Risqué shirts have helped us. Perhaps birders need more provocative messages on their birding apparel?!

  3. Too much! I swear this is the typical commentary I hear from a fantastic, fellow birder.... (His ability to find birds offsets his humor). However he's just up and left to go back and live in Rochester, NY, so sad. At a loss for words, but thanks for the laughs.

    1. A no! We've lost another one then. It's dullards like us who are responsible for driving these peeps away : )