No pressure. That’s how I approached this wonderful opportunity when Robert asked me to write for his blog. Sure I’m the only Canadian on his list, and it’s a big country up here, but no pressure.
However, I wouldn’t be much of a bird watcher if I didn’t like a challenge. I’m very flattered to be writing for this blog, and looking forward to seeing what comes out of my pen. Imagine my surprise when my first post turned out to be about a non-birder.
My husband of many years does not consider himself a bird watcher. To him, a duck is a duck, unless of course it's larger, then a goose is a goose. Thus are all grebes, coots, mergansers and other waterfowl except swans (they’re white), neatly categorized.
He can however, identify the birds that visit our yard, including female brown-headed cowbirds that flit through occasionally. He can point out the differences between a downy and a hairy woodpecker. He knows enough to yell CAMERA at top volume when an unusual bird is at our feeders.
He came home from the golf course one evening very excited because he had 'gotten an eagle'. My birding brain kicked in first, and I was trying to figure out how someone could hit one of the bald eagles on the course with a golf ball. He was unimpressed by my lack of congratulations, but by the time my non-birding brain woke up, the moment had passed. He never even thought of the connection.
On a recent fishing trip, all he came home with was pictures.
When we're travelling, one of us is always looking for birds while the other one is just enjoying the drive. Occasionally though, the vehicle comes to a sudden halt while I’m gazing out the window, off in bird land. One blisteringly hot day last summer, we were driving slowly along a gravel road as I was looking at a large flock of shorebirds. Suddenly the pedal hit the mat, and I whipped my head around. This is what my non-birding husband hit the brakes for.
About a hundred yards from the road were five - count 'em - five ferruginous hawks. Most birders are overjoyed to see just one of these threatened raptors, and we had five. Once I commented on how rare a sighting that was (okay, maybe I said it more than once). He managed to bring it up in any number of conversations, even with non-birding folks.
Does a person have to be interested in all birds to be a birder? Can he retain his 'a duck is a duck' mantra and still think birding is fun? Don't even get me started on what he calls the various gull species, although by now he probably just uses the 'S' word to see the steam come out of my years.
On the other hand, he's very proud of the fact that he's seen nine owl species and has become rather adept at working that into conversations as well.
He may deny it, but I'm inclined to think he’s a birder and just hasn't realized it yet. If he ever points out a horned-grebe on the water though, I’ll buy him his own birding hat and pass the salt.
As I normally write for my blog at Bird Canada, I should add that my posts here may sometimes stray over into Canadian-ese. I apologize in advance for all those extra ‘U’s’ that might show up.