Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Birding takes practice. It's not an easy hobby if a person is juiced on caffeine or adrenalin. It takes patience- an ability to notice small details, an ability to stand still. A lot of birding involves waiting. I find huge joy in seeing a bird for the first time and being able to figure out what the bird is. This month I saw and recognized my first chestnut-sided warbler. I probably saw this bird before, but this time I knew what was in my face. It's the small details and bird behavior that helps in recognition and it happens in seconds.

On Monday I saw a tour guide with a group of inner city teenagers on a nature walk. They were far too noisy to have allowed birds to be seen close. The guide was saying, "That was a .....". "This is a tulip tree. The orioles love tulip trees". "That singing you're hearing is a ...". As I passed this group I heard one of the laggard kids ask, "Can't we see a cow or somethin'?" Yes, a cow they would have noticed, but not the small creatures, not yet fine-tuned birders, more attuned to texting and video games, big blare and flashing lights, not the gentle signs of nature.

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