Camp Chiricahua, Day 1. The author is fourth back on the right. (That's Jennie-left, for reference).

Camp Chiricahua, Day 1. The author is fourth back on the right in the Tilley hat. (That’s Jennie-left, for reference).

Imagine you are at a bird camp. Camp Chiricahua, for instance. Maybe this year. Maybe even this week. You are having lots of fun making new friends, seeing lots of cool birds, and traveling to all sorts of awesome places. But with all this activity and excitement, you start wearing yourself down. All it takes is one strange meal from Golden Corral to push you over the edge and make you sick at what should be one of the highlights of the year. Blech.
So what do you do when you are too weak and dehydrated to go to the San Pedro House and see a banding demonstration, or travel to Beatty’s Apple Orchard in Miller Canyon to search for vagrant hummingbirds? Well, when you are at bird camp, your fellow campers will definitely be your allies when you are feeling under the weather. Next time you find yourself cooped up in a hotel room nibbling on saltines and sipping ginger ale in a strange place while your friends are out birding, here are some things that will help pass the time.

  1. Count on the generosity of your friends. Don’t have a smart phone or tablet? No problem. Young birders are awesome, and someone will lend you theirs so you can keep in touch with them. Gila monster on the road? Someone will send you a picture in real time. It’s not quite the same as being there, but it is a close second.*
  2. Perhaps some kind soul will even offer to stay with you so you have company and don’t have to get up to get ice. If you are really lucky, people may be fighting for the chance to hang out with you.^
  3. Catch up on all of the eBird lists that Michael O’Brien has shared with you so far during camp. There will be LOTS. You have to accept each one individually. That’ll fill up a half an hour.
  4. Study the Sibley guide so that by the time you feel better, you’ll be prepared to catch up on lifers. Separating Broad-billed from White-eared Hummingbirds? Got it down.
  5. Listen to Pandora and try out your new friends’ musical tastes. If Pish & Twitch is at camp, you can be assured of lots of great musical suggestions.
  6. Sleep in the air conditioned comfort of your room. Important note: turn the air conditioning on to COOL instead of just “FAN”. It works better. Trust me.
  7. If you don’t have a smart phone, you’ll probably find that you have around 632 notifications from photos you have been tagged in on Facebook when you log in on your friend’s tablet. Catch up and smile at the antics of your fellow campers and memories of the places you’ve been and birds you’ve seen.
  8. Try a variety of different soothing drinks and foods.#
  9. Take it easy and feel better so you can get out birding again as soon as possible. You were probably short on sleep anyway, so this is a great opportunity to catch up and be more alert once you can go birding.
  10. Blog about it!

*Thanks to Rosemary for lending me her tablet and to Caleb and Brendan for the updates from the field.
^Thanks to Dana and Jennie for staying back and keeping me company. Also, thanks to Rosemary and Caleb for what I hear was an epic arm wrestling battle.
#Ginger ale, saltines, nuun, and ice chips are nice. Thanks to Jennie, Louise, and Michael for keeping me well-stocked with food and beverages.