I've sure had this happen. Happens a lot more often since 9/11, too,
since a lot of the public and a fair number of cops seem unable to tell
the difference between a spotting scope and a shoulder-fired missile, or
between a bunch of overweight middle-aged suburban birdwatchers and a
gang of Middle Eastern terrorist desperadoes, for that matter.
In Boston a few winters ago, groups of birdwatchers gathered on the roof
of a parking garage near Boston harbor to watch a Gyrfalcon that was
spending the winter in the area touched off repeated panics by nearby
office workers and pedestrians, and several times got ordered off the
garage and threatened with arrest by the police for creating a public
But I've had the occasional misunderstanding just standing in the street
with binos up even pre-9/11. If someone has never come into contact
with birdwatching culture, it's totally understandable they might get a
little freaked out if they see somebody who looks like they're checking
out houses or looking in windows with binoculars.
Lance Tanino wrote:
> Hello birders:
> I have been wondering how often do birders get visited by the police? Has
> anyone walked down a neighborhood street birding and had someone call the
> police on them? I've had that experience recently and wondered how
> frequently that occurs to birders.