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Birding considered among the most boring hobbies
Say what? Birdwatchers, church-goers, and TV addicts are considered dull, according to new research.
A philosophical question to ponder: what is boredom? Watching paint dry? Waiting for water to boil? Watching grass grow? Or worse, is it birding?
A new study, recently featured in The Guardian, involving 500 people, found birdwatchers among the most dull people. Less boring pursuits include acting and journalism. Researchers Wijnand van Tilburg, Eric Igou, and Mehr Panjwani published their findings in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. They found that even stamp collecting was considered more exciting than birding.
With all due respect, I’ve been a stamp collector, and I can tell you it’s incredibly boring.
However, as The Guardian author suggests, if you find everyone else boring maybe you only have yourself to blame.
When we label others as boring, it’s either because we lack the imagination to understand what they get out of tracking the silvery-cheeked hornbill, or it’s because they chewed our ear off about something we’re just not interested in. This whole exercise is reminiscent of the old joke: “How can you tell if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll let you know.”
Maybe, more than anything, birders are just really good at being boring. Birders invent new challenges and goals just to stay entertained. It might be a Big Sit, a county Big Year, a Green Big Year, or focusing on a micro-patch. It might just be keeping a list.
I’m biased, but I believe nothing beats the delight of finding an unexpected species, adding a bird to your life list, or the camaraderie of a group bird walk. In the end, birding is the opposite of boring—it’s exciting.
I’m trying not to take this news personally, I really am. But if the study authors just came on a walk, tried to identify a Clay-colored Sparrow from a Chipping Sparrow. Picked through the Catharus thrushes or argued over Empidonax flycatchers, they just might get it. Until then, I’m going to go back and re-organize my yard lists from 1986 and refine my micro-patch strategy for Fall 2025 migration. That’s the opposite of boring.