The philosophy of Chopsticks
2006 Rocky Mountain National Park Artist in Residence

Why I watch Birds and other things

Blogging has been light. I had a work related exam which I passed (phew!) and we have been getting prepared for Kevin's Artist in residency at Rocky Mountain National Park. I spent 5 stunning days up at Rocky staying with him. It was simply glorious to kick back and do nothing.
Of course all these events conspired to keep me from blogging and I missed a number of Blog Carnivals that I really, really wanted to participate in.

I love I and the Bird blog carnival. I missed its anniversary carnival. The theme: Why? Why do we bird watch?

I am busy browsing through the various entries. Check out the carnival round up at 10,000 Birds.

Reading through the wonderfully written posts got me thinking too. Why? Why do we do it? I grew up surrounded by birds, wild and caged. My family toyed with birdwatching. As a little girl I can remember being bored silly at a birding event. It was hot, I was getting bitten by mosquitos and I didn't get it. I thought the grown ups around me were a fussy lot. I just didn't think birds were that interesting.

It was only later on while I was studying for my law degree that I met a birder. Not a fussy type. But a real honest to goodness, no nonsense birder. I would spend long weekends with her and our group of friends. We would walk through the bush - I just followed. She would walk purposefully through the bush, armed with her binoculars. Through her I learnt about birds, and how fascinating they are. Through her we invented a game. (To annoy the fussy birding types.) We would learn the latin names of the birds, and only refer to those birds through their latin names. Many years later, all I remember is Haliaatus vocifer (I pronounced it "Halitosis wash haare".) Learning the latin names made us look at the groups and families of birds. Why are Fish Eagles in a different grouping to other Eagles (aquila)?

I found that the more I looked the more interested I became. Not only was I noticing birds, I could take the time to stop and observe behavior. Ducks feeding, finches singing, hawks scanning and hunting. I remember vividly the sound of a Martial Eagle tearing at its prey. The sound the birds make exactly one hour before sunrise.

Then I moved from South Africa to Colorado. Within the first month of my arrival I had bought a bird field guide. 5 years later Kevin and I always have our field guide and our binoculars no matter where we are going. We love to return to well known birding spots. But mostly it is about discovery, of learning new things.

Spring never fails to excite me. Where will the thrushes build their nests? Will it be the same as last year? Will the finches return to their urban pole apartment (inside the wash line support pole) ? Who will be new to my garden?