Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bearded Birders

This is a question I have pondered for a long time... Why do so many male birders have beards? I have nothing against beards. I'm just curious.

I did a Google image search for "beards" and the fifth picture on the page was a bearded guy with binoculars around his neck! Upon clicking on the picture, I learned that he's a birder. So what is it that attracts birders to grow beards? Do other outdoor activities like fishing and hunting also attract men to grow natural face warmers? Are we longing to be men of the wilderness and look rugged? Are beards used as a sort of mutual sign among birders to help us recognize our own "species"? I could see growing a beard for warmth while winter birding, but the last place I want to have a beard is while birding in hot weather or in the tropics. I can't imagine how much I'd sweat, let alone what kind of critters it could attract.

I thought perhaps that it was a nod to our birding and naturalist forefathers, but Alexander Wilson and Audubon were both clean shaven. Roger Peterson was beardless too. John Muir and an older Charles Darwin had some legendary beards though. It seems to be pretty split.

This birding beard phenomenon is just a curiosity I've had and I know others have noted it too. I personally grew a short beard last winter, but it was more an act of laziness than anything else. I'm going to try again this winter and see if my birding skills improve. The real question is... do beards grow in space? See below.


Susan Gets Native said...

I don't know about the theory, Patrick.
I'm a birder too, and I don't have a beard.


Keith Dowling said...

I grow mine seasonally. As the hawks start filtering south in late September, the razor gets retired. The beard comes in until May or so. as the warblers move North, the beard comes off.
Winter plumage / summer plumage.

Patrick Belardo said...

we're all glad for that!

That's an excellent reason. That's the kind of thing I was looking for someone to say.

John said...

I am bearded year-round, but it does not have any connection to birding, since I have had the beard longer than I have been birding.

Patrick Belardo said...

For some reason, I always pictured you being more bluish with a blue necklace and streaking down your flanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Now that's just plain funny if you ask me. Excuse me-I have to go shave.