[Tweeters] monetizing a stakeout

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 31 20:24:00 PDT 2022

Dear Tweeters,
On the topic of monetizing a stakeout, here is a precedent from the Lone Star State. In 2003, while I was down there birding with a couple of other chaps, we heard tell of a Blue Mockingbird staked out in the very birdy yard of a Mr. Williams, in the town of Pharr, Texas.
One of the guys balked at the idea of paying to see a bird, so he went off birding somewhere else. The other agreed to come with me to Mr. Williams's house. When we got there, there was nobody home; no sign of other birders did we see. At the end of the driveway was a table set up with a guest register, directions to the bird's favored haunts, and a coffee can with a slot in the lid. 
At this point, the other guy suggested that we hold off on paying, until such time as we actually saw the bird.
"Are you crazy?" I remonstrated. "If we do that, we're sure to dip on it! I'm payin' right now!"
He reluctantly ponied up his fee. It was either five or ten bucks apiece.
It took us only a few minutes to find the bird. Tick!
I don't remember whether the money went to Mr. Williams's general fund, or whether it was earmarked for some nobler cause. Either way, it was a straightforward transaction.
It might be tricky to run this sort of arrangement in some neighborhoods, in this day of porch piracy, but I am sure it could be done. If such a rarity were to show up at my place, I'd consider having a donation system set up for Skagit Land Trust. I didn't do that when I had the Black-chinned Hummingbird here, but I probably could have. A sliding scale might be one way to approach it.
One last thing. A number of years ago, I followed up on a report of a Yellow-headed Blackbird. It had been reported from a country road up in Marblemount. I never did find that bird. As I was walking up that road, a man stumbled out of a single-wide mobile home, carrying a can of beer. In an amiable haze of intoxication, he asked what I was doing. When I told him that I was looking for a Yellow-headed Blackbird, and explained what that was, he scratched his head. Then he asked, "Might there be any money in that?"
It saddened me to inform him that, no, there is very little money to be made in guiding people to Yellow-headed Blackbirds. I always think of that conversation when I pass by that mobile home. It is still mouldering away up there.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
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