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by Robin Tuck
January 1997

Come here. Go there. Attend this meeting or that meeting. Watch this or that.

The demands for time are fierce. Everybody wants some of your time.

Birding is no exception. We hold field trips, meetings, classes and have contests. All of this takes time, time you may not have to give.

Where should you spend your time? The possibilities are endless, but available time and other resources are not. Every person must choose for themselves what to spend their time doing.

Birding is just one of the things a person can choose to do, but choosing to bird is the same as choosing not to do something else. This idea is called "opportunity cost", meaning that the true cost of doing a thing is what other things could have been done in its place.

What price do we pay to bird, and is it ultimately worth it?

Hard question. Of course, the answers are individual, but they go back to decisions we have (or should have) made about the kind of person we are. Our decision to bird must be consistent with our life goals and plans or we will face an internal conflict. Unfortunately, there have been times when I have been birding when the feeling "I should not be here" comes over me.

What comes first?

For some, birding is a vocation, for others an avocation; a means of livelihood or an interesting thing to do. Most of us provide for our living another way, so making ends meet comes before birding. But there may be many other things that also come before birding. Because of this, there are and must be times when you do not attend a club activity, placing something else first. That something might be work, family or church.

But birding is worth it, at least to most of us. Several of you have commented about season tickets that go unused because of a birding outing.

We cannot know why you are attending a birding function, and what is left undone in your life because of the choice you have made. Perhaps seeing the birds and having the sociality of your fellow birders is needed to lend strength in a trying moment. Perhaps this activity is more important than dishes in the sink.