NABA and butterfly watching

John Acorn janature at
Sat Jun 19 02:22:17 EDT 1999

Mike Quinn wrote:

>Dear John,
>I think that NABA readily does acknowledge that "butterflying" is in its
>infancy. In fact, Glassberg's editorial in the current issue of "American
>Butterflies" draws parallels between the start of "birding" and where
>butterflying is now.

I agree, but that was not quite my point.  I too acknowledge that butterfly
watching is in its early stages.  The difference is that I think we should
be able to examine it, and change the parts that don't work.  The impression
I get from NABA's publications is that they (or the editors) believe that
the thinking has been done for us by NABA's expert team, and the rest of us
need not pursue the issue further.  My favourite example involves their
unwillingness to discuss catch and release as another non-consumptive way to
study and appreciate butterflies.  Another example is the lack of concern
among watchers that close focussing binoculars only allow you to look at a
butterfly with one eye at a time, once you reach the closest focus point! 
With help, I have solved this problem, but who wants to listen?  I tried to
publish an article on butterflying optics in American Butterflies, and
didn't even receive an acknowledgement of receipt.

Speaking of Glassberg's editorial, here's the part that surprised me: 
"Modern butterflying began in the mid 80's with the switch from nets to
binoculars by members of the New York City Butterfly Club."  Perhaps for him
it did, but despite the impression he gives, he and his friends did not
invent the idea of watching butterflies.  I have always given credit to Bob
Pyle for launching "modern butterfly watching," and his books were written
before the mid 80's, and originated in Washington state, as far as I know. 
His writings were my own inspiration, and at the time I had never heard of
the New York Butterfly Club.  Perhaps the word "modern" has a peculiar,
elitist meaning here, and one that is at the heart of the problem we are

John Acorn

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