[Tweeters] Laser Pointer Comments

Teresa Michelsen teresa at avocetconsulting.com
Sat Jan 28 13:25:56 PST 2017

This is consistent with my experience – guides using it to help slower individuals in a group get on a bird by shining a green laser dot below or to the side of the bird, then giving directions from there. Typically in a jungle or other area where it can be very hard to see the birds if you are not used to the environment. Guides are careful not to shine the pointer on the bird or use it more than necessary. I have found it to be very effective, since in dense jungle it can be very hard to describe one particular spot in the foliage with just words.

Teresa Michelsen

Snoqualmie WA

From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of cgluckman at aol.com
Sent: January 28, 2017 1:12 PM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Tweeters] Laser Pointer Comments

Thanks to all Tweeters who replied on and off the site. Here’s a compilation of the comments:

1. Laser pointers can be useful in pointing out the location of birds under certain conditions (heavy jungle, wooded areas, leafy bushes, etc).
2. If the pointer allows a group of watchers to decrease their time in a specific location that’s probably of value to the birds and the field trip
3. The experience is mixed when trying to help people locate birds. All but one said it helped. One commentator said that his experience was that people who had trouble finding birds had trouble with or without the pointer.
4. There is virtually no reason for individuals to use pointers unless leading a group. Most agreed that there was little chance that individuals birding on their own would benefit from the use of a pointer. In fact, the time it would take to locate a bird with a pointer would be more and add to the time needed to find the bird with binoculars.
5. The comments were mixed on which color pointer to use. Though most used green ones, the reasons given were based on personal comments and guesses rather than any substantive information. The only one that was clearly substantiated was that most people who are color blind see green (as white) but have trouble with most reds. Strength was given as a reason green was used more but no one really tested this out. One said red was stronger. It probably depends on the power of the unit and not the color.
6. From the comments it’s logical that group leaders need to follow some basic rules if they intend to use a pointer: a. use only when the group is having difficulty finding birds (i.e., limit the tech for a better outdoor experience). b. never shine it on the bird (Though no one has read or heard of direct damage to birds, there is no reason to chance it). c. Keep the dot at least a foot from the bird and give directions from there. d. tell group members to leave any pointers they may have in their vehicles - it should be a leader-only tool. d. practice a bit on your own before you go out with a pointer. Become proficient enough you don’t have to stumble around and possibly shine it in a dangerous direction by mistake. e. don’t use it to entice birds to perform acts or act like cats.

Further thoughts?

David Gluckman
Pt. Townsend, WA

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