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Birdwatching's the New Boomer Interest
Commentary by: Elaine Viets
Aired February 21, 2007


Like many baby boomers, I’ve tried weight-lifting and racquetball. Rollerblading looked like a quick trip to the emergency room, so I avoided that craze. But I loved something just as risky – motorcycles.

Now there’s one more boomer trend: birdwatching.

Statistics show that boomers are flocking to birdwatching. Sixty-seven percent of the population say they’ve gone to a place more than three miles from their home to look for birds and wild life.

Bird watching is the second biggest leisure activity after gardening. I can hear those boomer knees cracking at the thought of weeding flower beds. But gardening was good enough for Beatle George Harrison.

Now the Woodstock generation may wind up like Miss Jane on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

The boomer interest in bird watching often starts in the dead of winter, when we put out a bird feeder with suet and seeds. First, we notice the little brown bird that’s adapted so well to St. Louis, the Eurasian tree sparrow. Next, we’re watching more colorful cardinals and blue jays.

Then we try to find a squirrel-proof feeder, which doesn’t exist. Before you know it, we’re photographing the red-breasted nuthatch and the purple finch. A little more time, and we have our own binoculars and a book called “Birds of St. Louis.”

Intrepid St. Louis birders are setting records in Florida. This year, St. Louisans on a birdwatching trip had the first ever sighting of white wagtail in Florida.

It makes me proud to know that St. Louisans helped Florida discover its own wild life.


(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Elaine Viets

Elaine Viets

Commentator

Elaine Viets is a freelance writer.

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