Ever wondered what competitive birdwatching would look like? Me too. So, read on, if you dare...
The training began months ago. Eager participants took to carrying equipment in large bags for weight-training, and strapping heavy weights around their necks to get used to moving with their binoculars in place. Field guides have been memorized, and teams carried out both routine and surprise rounds of lightning-fast identification with both audio and digital tests.
Watchers conducted drills to improve the speed, silence and accuracy of their binocular-to-eye techniques. Photographers honed their picture taking techniques for split-second clicking to catch their quarry before the quarry vanished from sight.
Exercise regimens were begun and followed, movements synchronized and lists prepared. All of this, for their Big Day.
The event date was set, and the teams of bird watchers were finally ready. The marathon of 24 straight hours of spotting as many different species as possible was rewarding and everyone felt they did their best. Judges reviewed the team’s lists of the birds the teams had spotted, and came across an impossible entry.
The list was filled with birds that were never spotted in the wild locally. These birds didn’t migrate anywhere near North America, and there was nothing fissiparous about the judges’ opinions on the list. This list could not be true, and the team must be disqualified.
The judges did not like to highlight the problem such blatant dishonesty; it sullied their sport, and birders were generally taken at their word, which made the confrontation particularly awkward.
The judges began by asking for photographs from the team. The team provided their photos. Flabbergasted, the judges reviewed the evidence, where all became clear. This team had spent its day at the local zoo.
fissiparous ( feh – SIP – are – us) adj. Latin. divisive, tending to break into parts or factions.A relative newcomer to the English language, this snuck in in the 19th century. It's from "fissus," the past part. of "findere" which means "split." This is the same root as the English word "fissure."