Sunday, August 5, 2012

Birding 24/7 fun

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Good birders are always "on."  For us and them, there is no "off" switch. They have a deep awareness, going down into their subconscious, that continually scans, like airport radar, for any sight, sound, or indication of the presence of birds. For Don and I, birding is 24/7, and here are a few recent examples of what it's like for us. 

While at dinner with friends at an outdoor restaurant by the river, four forms zip by, faster than the Millennium Falcon and I blurt out, "Northern Rough-winged Swallows!" Our dinner partners, non-birders, were not interested. 

Winter Wren
On a garden tour in Maine a long, bubbling sound drifts over the zen-like peacefulness of the asian-inspired garden. My subconscious speeds through my memory-file of bird songs and slams on the brakes at "Winter Wren." Don and I delight in this small, secretive bird of forests, perhaps the smallest bird with the longest song, and how very, very, cool it is to know it's here. Others around us do not notice it.

Black Guillemot

Don scanning the harbor

In Bar Harbor, we choose a restaurant where we can look out over the bay with binoculars. We spy a Black Guillemot, one of our Maine favorites, while we're eating lobster. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

While on our deck this morning, sipping coffee, we record in our daily journal all the birds we see and hear, including the Ruby-throated Hummingbird who, only feet away, nectars on the Salvia "Lady in Red" I planted for it.

We check our ipads, as we do daily, for the New England birding listserves, just in case a rarity shows up. 

A hike in the hot sun yesterday afternoon, lugging our scopes to the edge of the big pond we front on, rewarded us with looks at our property bird species number 197 –  two Pectoral Sandpipers! We go home and pop a bottle of wine to celebrate.

Summer Tanager

When we were in Sanibel Florida this winter, we looked daily at weather reports, including wind direction from the Yucatan and the mid-Gulf buoy, as well as scanning the bird predictor websites, hoping to catch migration fallout, which we did! See our post.

Barred Owl

Recently I was roused in the middle of the night to a dreamy half-consciousness by the sound of a hooting Barred Owl. Snapping awake, the first thing I did was shake my sleeping husband who was more than happy to be woken to hear the owl. 

These are just some examples of having our birding radar on all the time. When I think back to the dinner at the river, I am aware of how much richer and fuller my life and Don's is, compared to others who have no sensitivity to birds. Our world is enhanced so greatly because it is filled with this special awareness of birds, 24/7. Hope yours is too.


  1. Great post - I bring my camera bag with bins everywhere I go, just in case. Funny how non-birders may poke fun at us as we stop in the middle of a sentence and look up and track a bird.

  2. I agree completely- it's hard to turn birding "off." I especially love the picture of Don scanning the harbor while sitting at a restaurant in Bar Harbor. Maine is a beautiful state. I hope to make it up there in September!

  3. I know my world is much richer because of birds, I'm always listening and looking for them.

  4. Right on! Birding never really stops, and can be done almost anywhere, one of its many wonderful characteristics.

  5. Thanks for your comments. I know birding is 24/7 for you too. I should add, photography is also 24/7 for me, but that's a topic for another post.

  6. Wow your assortment of birds is outstanding and each of them are really grand! I especially loved the Summer Tanager~

  7. My wife and I are somewhat newer but our passion for birding ( and bird photography) is certainly the same as yours. What a wonderful addiction. :-)

  8. So true! You can recognize birders by their eyes: they are constantly scanning for movements. And they never sit with their back to a window. And when riding with a birder you better watch the road because he/she may not.

  9. I am looking for birds wherever I am. You never know what you might see. I am sure my friends and family notice how distracted by our feathered friends. Birdwatching is such a joy. Fantastic photographs and post!