|White Winged Tern Manitowic Impoundment Manitowic WI 5 22 2016 - Credit: Drewzepmeister|
"When word got out that a white-winged tern showed up along Lake Michigan on May 21, hundreds of people descended on Manitowoc in the hope of spotting a bird that most people won't see again in a lifetime.
"For two days, the tern normally found in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa drew an ardent tribe of onlookers, outfitted with necklaces of binoculars and cameras.
"And then it was gone. The last time it had been observed in Wisconsin was 1873.
"For some, it was the find of a lifetime. For those less fortunate, it was what birders call a 'whiff.'
"With major flyways like Lake Michigan, Wisconsin has long been a hub for birding. While some enthusiasts enjoy the pastime from their backyard, there is also a subculture of birders whose persistence to find new species is known to border on obsession.
"Chuck Hagner, editor of Massachusetts-based BirdWatching magazine, said, 'There is this special motivation for birders that if you are in the right place at the right time, you can see something magnificent.'
"In the most recent analysis by the federal government, Wisconsin was second nationally in birding participation, as measured by men and women 16 years and older who engage in some kind of birding activity during a year.
"Vermont ranked first, with a birding participation rate of 39%, according to a 2011 recreation survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wisconsin and West Virginia followed with 33%. The national average is 20%.
"'Naturally, we are a very birdy state,' said Carl Schwartz of Fox Point, a longtime activist in birding organizations in Wisconsin, including the founding of Bird City Wisconsin.
"The Mississippi River and the Great Lakes are highways for migration, Schwartz said.
"Another advantage: Wisconsin's "tension zone" of two geographic areas — northern mixed forests and southern broadleaf forests — attracts different and intermingling species.
"The month of May can be a frenetic period as an influx of birds moves through the state and birders — especially those with a goal of adding more birds to their personal lists — head outside with help from websites like Wisconsin eBird, where participants post bird activity.
"'Not all birders chase. I know that from the magazine,' said Hagner, who lives in Shorewood. 'But for some birders, the numbers are powerful and a sense of competition is what motivates them.'
"A week ago in Manitowoc, a woman from Arizona, who had flown to Wisconsin for the spring bird migration, rushed to the lakefront on the news of the white-winged tern, according to Charles Sontag, who lives a few blocks away.
"She saw it."
Read more: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/birders-go-to-extremes-to-feed-their-obsession-b99733282z1-381223091.html
How is it that some of us know all about this?