Tuesday, January 8, 2013


When I was a teenage birder in Northern California, too many years ago, the thrill of the chase and competitive listing were major drivers in keeping me out in the field and birding. It was only after the life birds started to get few and far between that I started to appreciate the wealth of other reasons to watch birds. As I grow older the list figures less and less prominently as a reason for me to get out and enjoy the birds. I am thrilled and honored when I get a chance to watch birds going about their usual business for a few minutes, as though I am looking through a window into their lives for a while. Birding gets me out of the house and outdoors, something most of my other interests fail to do. Through birding I have made wonderful friends and gotten to visit some incredibly beautiful places that, otherwise, I doubt I would ever have seen.
     I admit, however, that, with the New Year, the listing bug comes out of remission for a few weeks. Even my husband succumbs - he may not go birding any other day of the year, but New Year's Day finds him out in the field with me. You see, I do keep an annual list of birds that I see, and for a few weeks at the beginning of the year, I am back in my teenage mode again, when I came back from every day in the field with fifteen or twenty lifers.  My journal goes with me everywhere, so that I can keep up with my list of species that I am seeing for the first time this year. These days, I also make a little narrative entry about the sightings - I note the American Kestrel was sitting on a wire eating a long-tailed mouse - I saw the Pileated Woodpecker from my recliner in my living room, when he landed on a sugar maple just beyond the deck railing. As I get older,  I treasure these experiences more and more, and they seem to me to be worth writing about, so that at a future time my journal will act as a key to the jewelry box that is my memory, and I can take my treasures out, one by one, and marvel at their beauty all over again.
Woman watches dog watch squirrels

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