Thursday, July 26, 2012

My birding world recently...

or confessions of a preoccupied non-birding birder...

Just under a month ago, I moved my family back to Idaho so that I could partner up with my dad in co-owning the family home building business. My dad has been a home builder in this area for 34 years, but things have been pretty slow since the housing bubble burst a few years ago. A crazy time to try and jump-start a business, but things are looking up and some of the best companies in the world rose from the ashes of depressions and recessions. While I am not depressed or anything, I'm actually very excited and engaged and focused on providing for my family, which has almost completely taken me out of the birding world. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose"...right? (That's a Biblical reference for you godless birders, not just a song popularized by The Byrds.)

The other thing that kinda has me bummed-out with regard to birding is that I am now living in Meridian, Idaho. It was the only place I could find to rent with enough room for our family and at the right price. Don't get me wrong. Meridian is a great town with lots of friendly people, but it is rather on the low end when it comes to native bird habitat. You see, Meridian was once a sagebrush desert, prior to the mid-1800's, and it probably didn't support many birds even then. Thanks to irrigation it become a vast expanse of agricultural land, both dairies and farming. In the last 20 years, Meridian has become an endless sea of roof tops melding into Boise until their borders are indistinguishable.
I can't complain too loudly as growth and home building has been the major source of my livelihood my entire life. I am of the opinion that it can be done much better than we have been doing it for the last century. There are better community designs that help sustain large and connected areas of natural habitat and therefore native birds and wildlife. Communities designed to embrace natural landscapes, native plants, and wildlife are often more appealing and lead to healthier lifestyles than traditional urban sprawl.

So anyway, Meridian's got nothin' in the way of great birding. Trust me, I even tried my own systematic method for "How to Pick a Patch" without success. There are no natural streams, rivers, ponds, nor lakes. Even the irrigation ditches lined with non-native trees don't boast a large number of birds. I've got my feeder up and my yard list is around a meager dozen species. There are a lot of really nice birding locations in the greater Boise area, but it's all a bit of a drive for me now. Our company office is out of my parent's home, and it too is in bird-barren Meridian. I haven't been taking my once sacred lunch-hour bird-walk. I'm going to have to change that soon for my own sanity. I just gotta get out and about, away from birder purgatory, and stop wallowing in non-birding birder remorse and self-pity. Don't even ask me about my complete and utter hypocrisy related to eBird this year! I am ashamed. I want to repent.

There are a few things related to birding for which I am very excited. BiF contributor Rob Fergus - The BirdChaser - will soon be visiting his family nearby in my hometown of Nampa, Idaho. We are arranging to meet in person for the first time and do a little birding together. I'm totally stoked for my opportunities to go birding at the Oregon Coast for most of a week in early August. That will be followed immediately by a special quick weekend birding trip to a cool destination I'll have to tell you more about later. Maybe these trips will help me overcome my eBird related deficiencies and get me out of my birding slump.

What else is going on in my non-birding world of late? Well, let's see...Oh, I'm reading "City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History of London, the Tower and its Famous Birds" by Boria Sax during my precious quiet time on the commode. Yeah, you might not want to borrow certain books from me as they have become "bathroom books" (a Seinfeld episode reference there, if you're wondering.) Anyway, the book is an extremely fascinating look at the history, legend and lore, and modern-day politics of the Tower of London ravens. As a huge fan of history and birds, this book is right up my alley, very well written, by an American interestingly enough, and I highly recommend it to like-minded bathroom book readers everywhere.

While you may not believe me after these confessions, I still live the mantra: "always be birding". We've had a number of family events in the out of doors recently. I was always noticing the birds and had my Eagle Optic Ranger SRT 8x42's strapped to my chest and I actually used them a few times to look at birds. From my office window, in my parent's house, I have enjoyed watching House Sparrows and House Finches glean insects and grit from the flower beds, Robins and Starlings foraging under the plum tree, and Mourning and Eurasian Collared-doves cooing from the roof-top. I just haven't "gone birding" lately.

On top of all my distractions from birds, I am also very excited for the Olympic Games in London to begin. My mom's example during my childhood has made me an ardent devotee of the Olympics...Oh and Boise State and BYU football start right on the heels of the games. Not to mention the presidential election about to really heat up. Don't know when I'd have time to watch any of these sporting/political events, what with all the birding I'm doing, but oh my, what a wonderful time of year! Maybe I'll get out and see what shorebirds are migrating through...when I get around to it.

All I gotta say is, thank goodness the contributors here at BirdingIsFun.com are so dang good. Their talents have kept this blog alive and have given me some daily vicarious connection to the wonderful world of birding. Haven't their posts since October 1st, 2011 been fantastic?!

17 comments:

  1. Para tudo a uma estação diferente no ano. Esperar pelas migrações de pássaros e o desejo que cheguem bem aos poucos santuários existentes. O urbanismo e os incêndios é o que mais me preocupa. Os animais selvagens padecem com esta erarquia do homem.
    Abraço

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  2. Actually it is a song by Pete Seeger who wrote it in 1959 and sang it all around the country for years before the Byrds covered it in 1965. And, of course, the lyrics are from the Old Testament.

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  3. I wish you well in the new area, and hopefully you find some nice caches of birds here and there.

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    1. Thanks Dan. I'll just have to work a little harder and make a little more effort to enjoy the nice birding locations nearby.

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  4. Just look at it as a long-term investment in your birding future. Anyhow that Oregon trip will be all the sweeter. The busy life is a life well lead, and the busy family life is the life most worth living. Your dedication is great Robert.

    Wjen will business bring you back down to Arizona???

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    1. "The busy life is a life well lead, and the busy family life is the life most worth living." - Amen to that!

      Since I don't work for the company based in AZ anymore, any trips there will have to be on my own dime...or if some birding related company wants to take me to AZ for any reason, I'd be delighted!!!

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  5. City of Ravens is a great book, I just finished reading it last week.

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  6. You'll get to the birds Robert, I just know that!!

    Maybe we can meet when I visit Boise.

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    1. I definitely hope to see you when you come to Boise! There are beautiful places and birds to photograph in Idaho!

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  7. I have no doubt you will find some sweet birding areas. I hope your business prospers and you and your family enjoy your new home.

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  8. Robert, you aren't far from the Kuna sewage treatment ponds. They open at 8:30 a.m. and are open until 4:30 or so. You might only get about 30 minutes of birding at lunchtime but that might be enough to get you through the day.

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    1. Great tip Denise! Only a birder would be delighted about combining sewage and lunch!

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  9. Interesting post Robert. I'll confess to some curiiousity about your move to Idaho so thanks for some info on that. I guess I'm surprised about the scarcity of birds in that area. I'll bet, given time, you'll find some spots close enough that will scratch your itch. Hope so.

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