I have a modest goal for myself in this year’s Birdathon. As a group we will almost certainly find over a hundred species of birds in twelve hours. I am hoping to find one of them. Before anyone else.
I’m not good at this. The most common visitor to my seed feeder is the house finch. I should be getting purple finches too, but I have yet to pick one out for certain, even though they’re close by and stay-putty. There’s a lot of variability in the house finch. Some are redder, some are more orangey. Some have a lot of color, some not so much. Here’s what birders tell me: the house finch is reddish, but the purple finch looks like he’s been dipped in raspberry sauce. “You’ll know the purple finch when you see him,” they say.
That’s really similar to what someone once told me about having an orgasm. And they were right. So I’m guessing I haven’t yet seen a purple finch.
Anyway, no sooner have I spotted a distant movement in the trees than half the people in my birding van will have hollered out its Christian name and lineage. Holding my own in a Birdathon van is like trying to impress the Nobel Prize Committee wearing a swimsuit, heels, and a sash, only without the pretty part. I don’t have what it takes.
It’s not fair. But I have a plan.
Once, at a party, the host had us play a game he called “Misspent Youth.” He had a recording of theme songs of TV shows and other tidbits from the ’50s and ’60s. He’d cue them up and we’d try to name that tune as fast as we could. I knew them all but I never got the words out of my mouth on time. So I thought of some shows he hadn’t played yet, concentrated on the opening chords, and prepared to hurl those titles in the first nanosecond. I had “Get Smart” and “My Three Sons” in my brain on a short fuse, and I was ready to fire. But I got too excited when they came on, and couldn’t get my tongue unfurled. It looked like I was going to come in last, and then, out of nowhere, a tune came up, everyone looked puzzled, and I bellowed “THE DUCK AND COVER SONG!” The skunk was off.
Nailed the “Go You Chicken Fat Go” song soon after, just for extra credit. I’m not proud of either one of them but you have to take your victories as they come.
So I’m going to pick out a few big easy birds that we’ll get in the first half hour (great blue heron, American crow, turkey vulture) and have them ready to launch like pebbles in a slingshot. I’ll bag my bird and sit back the rest of the day and watch the freaks do their thing. Also, I’m bringing cookies.
Have you considered making molasses and peanut butter cookies? With everyone else's mouth stuck shut….
I'm just sayin.
Oh, but then we'd get a count of 25 or something. No, I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity here.
Good luck! I hope you meet your goal, but either way it sounds like a lot of fun. With my floaters (EYE floaters, Murr), I'd be another who would have to bring cookies to justify my existence in the van.
I've got prodigious eye floaters myself. I hadn't even THOUGHT of that as an excuse. Until now.
The cookies were great! Also, you found a coot.
I'll have a follow-up on Saturday. And I'm REAL familiar with coots.
Coot is definitely a word that should be easy to get out of your mouth rapidly. Glad you also found the actual bird. But was it a young or old coot?
Cookies AND a coot. On a roll there…
You know, I really like coots, with their big stompy feets. Also, I got to see a little baby coot. Red.
Thought for sure you were identifying me.
Well, that's how I got so familiar. The big stompy feet and the sounds. ALL the sounds.
Coot? Are you sure? Maybe butter butt instead? Audubon's Warbler in public, obviously…
Dave thinks Butter Butt has possible negative connotations, or at least inaccurate ones, in his case. But I can see the temptation.
I spent some time with bird-peculiars last year and wasn't too impressed by the recounting of wet sliding on tummies in marshes to see a plover or sommat.
In order to do the tummy-sliding, I'd have to be after a salamander, I think.
You could take me with you -I'm rubbish at your birds.Except coots.I know them. (see my avatar)
NO! That's a New Zealand Blue Chicken, isn't it? Okay they don't call them that. Still. Quite coot-like. Do you call them coots?
Well, I call it by its Maori name Pukeko, but it's alsoknown as a purple gallinule.Porphyrio martinicusRelated to coots.Swamp hens, moor hens.All the same! Told you I'm rubbish.And I never heard of a blue chicken!
Nor will you, except here. I could never remember its name and when I saw one outside the car window I started screeching BLUE CHICKEN! BLUE CHICKEN! I meant well.
If you crush those cookies and scatter them around, you might get a whole bunch of birds all at once. Probably you should take extra cookies.
Ah, the old bait 'n' twitch?