Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Visions of Birding's Unchanged Past and Unrealized Future

I had the opportunity tonight to riffle through some old copies of Audubon magazine tonight, and I especially enjoyed the old advertisements. Birding always seems to be an underdog, on the cusp of mainstream acceptance - "one of the fastest growing activities!" they say - and so it was nice to see these old magazines and remember that this is a hobby with a full-bodied history.

The magazine I was looking at was from 1960, and featured a beautiful cover design (and the black-and-white photo was apt for the Gray Jay on the cover):


There were a couple of ads that I liked because they're still products that birders buy all the time. The problem of keeping squirrels off feeders will never go away, though I don't know how much I'd want my bird feeders making loud buzzing noises all the time...

Keeping your bird bath ice-free in winter is also a constant problem - plus no radio or TV interference!

And then there were ads for these funny little chairs that I still see out there sometimes. 

But in addition to these comforting reminders of birding's past, I found some dizzying visions of a birding future that never happened.  Check these things out:

Whoa!  Handheld rifle-style scope mount being used by a fedora-sporting proto-hipster!  Another one with a stabilizing gyroscope on the bottom!  Why aren't these everywhere?  Is it because they're so heavy and cluttered that dealing with them is such a pain that you don't notice that a bunch of terns (Roseate?) are cranking behind you?  Does that guy's fedora have a bedazzled band, or is it feathered?  If you're looking for "tripod-like stability" isn't it just easier to carry a tripod instead of some wearing a boombox around your neck?  So many questions, so few answers.


John B. said...

The stabilizer did come to pass, in a sense, except that it's used for telephoto lenses instead of spotting scopes, and it doesn't need to be worn as a separate box.

In today's highly paranoid environment, I don't think I'd want to carry any birding equipment that resembled a rifle.

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