Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No, you're a nuthatch!

Last week tens of thousands of North American bird watchers tallied up their numbers and submitted lists and photos to The Great Backyard Bird Count. At my last check, they had observed 597 different species.

Song Sparrow

If you had told me 5 years ago that I was going to know what the Great Backyard Bird Count was, much less that I was going to be delighted by it, I probably would've laughed at you. It's not that I don't like birds. I mean, I've always thought they were great. But bird watching? How boring is that?

Yellow Rumpled Warbler

My dad, who has developed into a gifted and devoted bird watcher, graciously showed me the error of my ways. It started with his beautiful photos attached to the ends of emails, then an annual calendar with his best photos, then a wonderful bird feeder* to entice my own little birdie friends, and most recently some wonderful binoculars that the babe and I have loved using when we go hiking.

White Breasted Nuthatch and Pine Warbler

Of course, I'm a super novice bird watcher. I can spot a robin, a house sparrow, a cardinal, maybe a blue jay, a woodpecker. And there are lots of times when they could be flying all around me and I would have no idea, made clear to me when my dad came to visit and saw ten different species outside the window in our 9th floor apartment (which I swore was too high for birds to fly because I had never seen any). I don't imagine that I'll ever be a bird watcher of my dad's caliber**, but I love that my eyes have been opened to the beautiful birds all around me, and I'm always delighted by his gorgeous photos.

Eastern Bluebird

As we're looking ahead towards more winter weather, I thought you all might enjoy some of these photos that my dad took during the recent snow in Georgia.

Northern Cardinal

* The bird feeder is stored away in our apartment, one of those things that I have refused to give away and have demanded closet space for in anticipation of the day that I have a window that looks out on trees where I can watch the birds feed.

** Hikes with my dad often include conversations like this (in a whisper):
my dad: Hear that?
me: What?
my dad: That.
me: What?
my dad: That bird.
me: What bird?
my dad: That ones that's making that sound. tweee...tweeee....tweee...
me: (straining) um...I think so.
my dad: That's a [insert interesting bird name here].
me: Yeah?


my dad: (in a whisper) Look!
me: Where?
my dad: (pointing) Right there. In that tree.
me: (peering...clearly not seeing anything)
my dad: (pointing at a tree about 100 yards away) There. On that third branch from the top.
me: Oh yeah. (not actually sure that I see anything while my dad hands me the binoculars)
20 minutes later once I've gotten the binoculars focused in the right place.
my dad: Oh, I think it flew away. That's okay. We'll see another one.


Juliet said...

Your dad sounds sooooo sweet!

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