What advice would you give to a new birder?
Get out and enjoy yourself. Don't ever lose that enjoyment, that passion of it. Get out and learn about where you are in addition to seeing the birds. Learn the ecology and natural history of the area.
I'd definitely encourage people who are just getting into it to get out in groups. You can learn a lot from other people.
Listen, be flexible. Don't be too confident in your ability.
Birding is fun. It's a way to get away from it all. Connect with something that we're losing connection with as a society. It's a great way to get out and see beautiful places. A great way to develop a connection with what we depend on- the water, air, the critters.
I met Andy in Florida at Long Key State Park, where he was looking for Zenaida Dove, and I for the Key West Quail Dove. (They're there... someone will see one sooner or later!) I've heard of Andy many times having grown up in Missouri, where he's worked with the Department of Conservation. It's amazing to meet someone so far away, who you've never met but share multiple connections with. Birding definitely makes the world smaller!