Feb 11 2008

I can’t stop watching them

Published by at 9:04 pm under Musings & News

Kate watching birds (photo by Z Taylor)People often ask me why I'm interested in birds. 

My husband insists it was meant to be after I had a part in a French play at the age of six.  My costume was blue from head to toe and I had one line: "Je suis un oiseau bleu."   "I am a bluebird."

But really, it's because they fly.  They're beautiful, and they fly, and they fly beautifully.  This rules out insects - but I never did like bugs.

I remember the first bird that fascinated me:  the common nighthawk.  When I was in grade school we lived in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, near an apartment building with a gravel roof.  Every summer I sat on our front steps and watched the nighthawks' courtship, the flapping flight, the peenting, dive and boom. 

When I was twelve we moved to an area that had recently been a farm.  I spent my first summer there walking the remnant woods in the creek bottom.  One day I literally came face to face with a red-eyed, olive-green bird.  At home I searched my field guide.  It was a red-eyed vireo.

Over the years I've gotten better at identifying birds.  Each spring, after my ears get back in tune, I can identify many of them by voice. 

True confessions of a birder:  I can't be at an outdoor party without silently identifying all the birds nearby.  I keep this ability under wraps (imagine not paying attention at an outdoor wedding!) but it is practically impossible for me not to see and hear them.  

I love the flash of wings. The red-eyed vireo looked me in the eye and I've been looking back ever since.

That's me on an outing to Conneaut Marsh, photo by Z Taylor.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “I can’t stop watching them”

  1. Vernon 14 Feb 2008 at 5:36 am

    Don’t worry you’re normal….at least from a truly addicted birder perspective! Outside and not birding?! How do these people call themselves alive?!

  2. Markon 17 Feb 2008 at 7:00 am

    Sometimes when I am out in the field with folks for work, I’ll say, “that is a Carolina wren” or some other bird species. It is hard not to notice once you are in tune with nature.

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