Birding, Bird watching, whatever we call it, should the hobby of birding be on topic to TGO?
Edit: I removed link to the originating question, because I realize the quality (or lack thereof) of that particular question is muddying things.
I think this question is clearly on-topic.
The bigger question is whether animal-identification questions should be on-topic. If so, then this is a simple animal-ID question, within our scope. I don't see how one could argue that animal identification is off-topic, it's often quite important to be able to tell animals apart (and plants, for that matter) - "How do I tell a (relatively safe) king snake from a (deadly) coral snake?" "If I see bear dung, how do I tell whether it's a (fairly docile) black bear or (aggressive) grizzly/kodiak?", etc.
I also believe that animal, plant, fungi etc identification questions should be on topic. For me, knowing or learning about the nature that surrounds me is an integral part of being outdoors, not only for safety reasons (such as being able to tell dangerous and harmless animals apart), but out of curiosity, and something that for lack of better term I would call a thirst for knowledge. I do not see any good reason to restrict this site to just physical outdoors activity. I believe that "mental" activities such as animal or plant identification, that pretty much have to take place outdoors, should be allowed here (unlike questions like "what is the name if this fish that is in the fishtank in my friends living room" or "what kind of cactus do I have on my window sill" or "what are these little white worms in the bag of flour in my pantry", which clearly do not belong here).
The two main problems regarding animal/plant/rock/fungus/... identification questions IMHO are:
Do we have experts that will be able to answer them? We have some people very knowledgeable in number of outdoors topics, but I am not sure how many botanists/zoologists/mycologist etc do we have here.
Are there any other sites that would be more suitable for such questions? There is a Botany proposal, there were already several Mycology related proposals that all died slow death from lack of interest (by the way, in the discussion for one of the recent Mushroom Hunting proposals, some people voiced an opinion that most of the questions that were proposed for that site should be on topic in Great Outdoors), there is a Biology site in public beta, however that is described as "site for biology researchers, academics, and students", so I am not sure if simple owl call identification would be on topic there.
As far as the question that prompted this discussion, I think it is a good one, since it does not actually ask about specific animal identification, it is basically asking "what resources are there to help identify an owl call", and I think answers to such question could be useful for many outdoors people, even though the actual recording of the call in this question was not made somewhere in deep woods or swamps.
Birding is definitely on topic here, and welcome. In June of 2015, this discussion about growing our user base, and attracting a wider variety of topics, specifically mentions birding. The few questions that came as a result of that were well received, so I agree the community as it stands now is supportive of bird-related questions.
Well unless there is a lesser, birdier, or higher out doors then yes. Anything not specifically organized as an outdoor 'sport' or interest should be TGO topic. compartmentalizing is a dangerous problem. Sailing should be a separate group as there are too many people that have seen videos and claim to be experts that are guiding people into a life threatening situation.
To me, "The Great Outdoors" means being in some way physically active outdoors. While I'm sure there is much to enable bird spotting that would come within this definition, e.g. being outdoors in wild places, bird spotting itself I would consider off-topic.
Obviously there are times when animal identification might be important during outdoor activities, @Kevin gave examples in his answer,...
- How do I tell a (relatively safe) king snake from a (deadly) coral snake?
- If I see bear dung how do I tell whether it's a (fairly docile) black bear or (aggressive) grizzly/kodiak?
... however, the key difference in these examples is that animal identification has some use beyond just identifying the animal for the sake of identifying the animal. It is being used for the purposes of keeping safe in The Great Outdoors.
The original question that prompted this discussion seems to have no link to the Great Outdoors that I can descern other than the recording was made outside.