Sunday, November 04, 2012

The "Generations" of Pale Male Watchers

Photograph courtesy of

Happy Fall Back DayRemember your clocks!
This evening I opened my email box and found a note from a newer hawkwatcher who had been credited with a hawk observation by a longtime New York City hawkwatcher and blog contributor who had sent me a NYC Hawk Update that I'd previously received and published.

Proper credit being not only customary for published observations whenever possible, but to give credit where credit is due when passed along by a second respected hawkwatcher and published is an expectation. An expected and in reality ironclad necessity for any observation which would get you into very hot water in the past if you neglected to give the original observer their proper due. 

 In fact in the first and second generations of hawkwatchers to neglect giving credit for any sighting in which the observer is known,  is a rather horrid case of extremely poor birding manners. 

But times and mores seem to have changed with the entrance of the Third Generation Hawkwatchers.  

Let me clarify.   

The First Generation of NYC Hawkwatchers are known as The Regulars.  Their adventures with Pale Male,  his first mates, their nests,  and the birds of Central Parkl.  They are chronicled in Marie Winn's marvelous book, Red-tails in Love

The Second Generation of NYC Hawkwatchers arrived to help get Pale Male and Lola's nest site returned to them through protest or whatever might work, and then stayed to watch what happened next.  Myself included. 

 A few of us also took up the print chronicling torch first lit by Marie Winn.   

The Second Generation was nicknamed the Pale Male Irregulars, after Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars who were the younger set in those adventures.

Many of the third great influx, the Third Generation  of watchers, came into hawkwatching by way of the Washington Square Park Hawks and the NYTimes HawkCamMany of these seem to prefer anonymity and have an expectation that sightings without  a person's name attached should be taken with the same validity as an observation in which a person puts their name on the line as proof of their veracity. 

It really is quite fascinating. 

Below is the email I received from the Third Generation hawkwatcher,  which brought this anomaly between generations to my attention.

Please remove my name from your blog.   Just a suggestion,  perhaps not use anyone's name under they specifically tell you they want their names published.

(Name withheld, D.B)

No problem.  Your name has been removed and I'll edit contributor's emails which include your name in the future as per your request.

Regarding your suggestion--

Here's why it has been traditional and important to watchers, for writers to include observer's names in the NYC nature blogs.

 Marie Winn was the original New York City Hawk story writer and bloggist and beyond all the other work she's published, she wrote a nature column for the Wall Street Journal.  And as you know, legitimate print wants, if at all possible, names to be used so information can be verified by others.   Therefore her blog was and is, in that style.

As Marie was the original, and we follow in her courteous footsteps, most of the second generation of hawk bloggists have attempted to follow her lead in giving named credit.

That's the top layer.

The second layer is that, as we also know,  some people's observations, because they are better observers or just more experienced than others, are more reliable. 

Therefore readers absolutely wanted to know who claimed the sighting so they could decide for themselves whether or not to believe it.  Even now when most everyone carries a camera, many photos could have been taken at another time or place and claimed through mischance or fraud as a current sighting.

And last but not least certain sightings particularly of fledgings, or whether a deep nest has been abandoned or is active take many hours, days, or even weeks to procure and those watchers deserve credit for their patience, perseverance, and for generously sharing that information with other watchers as opposed to keeping it without sharing "in their pocket", as a few have been known to do in the past.


In the end, for most of us, it is all done for the love of the hawks.  The more we share, the more people are moved to love  and protect them.

Happy hawking!
Donegal Browne


NY Bill said...

I would think it would be an honor to be receive credit for a blog entry or photograph. But if someone doesn't want a credit, why do they post information? Do they want money?

Julia G said...

Love your blog - this is a fascinating and very modern topic, given our oddly evolving tension between public and private, what with Facebook, Google, TSA x-rays and street cameras with face recognition technology.

Maybe balance could be achieved between the need for privacy in cyberspace (even people who aren't in the witness protection program may prefer a low profile) and reliable attribution by using the old-fashioned "nom de plume" or "nom de guerre", or initials (my preference, like a 19th century novel LOL). It's pretty easy to build up credibility for one's alter ego over time (e.g. Stephen King ghostwriting as Richard Bachman). Just my thought.

Donegal Browne said...

And a good thought it is, Julia. I cannot agree more!

I have no problem with someone who is concerned about privacy using a full time "name", not that of their private life, online.

Particularly if I am able to nail down that the cyber person is actually a bona vide human who is known in the field by people that I know to be reliable.

PonDove who is a moderator for the NYTimes HawkCam Chat, and an avid watcher in Washington Square Park, prefers the use of her screen name online. Something that she alerted me to, in her first email.

This isn't a problem for me, particularly as I do know her real name as do many, and she doesn't use her screen name to be rude and disparaging of others...ever.

In fact I've suggested the taking of a nom de plume for sightings to a NYC bloggist who uses what I take to be her real name online already, but sent an extremely rude email when that name, real or otherwise, was included in an update from a Central Park hawkwatcher, giving the bloggist the attribution that was her due, as per the courtesy that we regularly have given each other for many years.

She refused.

That said, the biggest problem I have with the use of "anonymous" or an out-of-the-blue screen name in the comments section of the blog or in other online writings, is that too often the person writing is using anonymity or an unknown nom de plume to be deeply rude and cheap shots to bully others.

One can only assume they haven't the gumption to stand by their rude words and lack of manners. And therefore do not deserve to have those words in print. Nor do I think I should even have to read them (good luck on that one, I'm afraid) when I firmly believe all this shouldn't be about vying personalities but rather about Pale Male and all the other beautiful birds and animals that enrich our lives through those that work for other species benefit and not their own self-aggrandizement or personal profit.

Human egos? Not so much. :)