|Hazel lives at Portland Audubon.|
If anyone loiters at this site for long enough, they might begin to think they know me. They might, for instance, assert with confidence that I am a birder, because I write affectionately about birds. Who wouldn’t want to look at birds? Given the knowledge that there are little fluffy dinosaurs flapping around outside in colored suits, who the heck would rather stay inside and watch TV? Well. Not me. So does that make me a birder? Do you actually think I am one of those people wearing a dopey nylon hat with my pants tucked into my socks driving thirty miles per hour under the speed limit with my head cranked out the window?
You bet I am.
That doesn’t make me a good birder. Those people are freaky. They can reel off the names of any dot in the sky you care to point at and a bunch you can’t even see, too. I, on the other hand, have spent the last six months looking at finches at a feeder six feet away and trying to decide if they’re House Finches or Purple Finches. I’ve consulted guides. I’ve looked it up on the internet. I still don’t know.
Real birders have something called a Life List. They maintain a list of all the birds they’ve ever identified and they get super excited when they get a new one, called a Life Bird, or Lifer, for short.
I’ve seen the exact same Life Bird dozens of times.
|So does Aristophanes.|
This is the problem. I have a memory in the same sense that I have a penis. That is, I don’t have one. It’s a serious issue. If I’ve met you before, I don’t remember you. I don’t care if we spent hours talking to each other at a party. I’ve never seen you before. If I do remember your face, I’ll ask you how your family’s doing, even if we’d spent hours talking about how their deaths in a tragic tightrope accident had left you with a fear of both heights and string and no sense of closure, and it was in the newspaper for weeks. I’ve learned five thousand classical pieces on the piano and I can’t conjure up a single one to play for you.
I do have a gift for metaphor and hyperbole that serves me well as a writer. Both require a very loose rein on the brain cells so they can wander around and bump into each other in a serendipitous fashion, and my brain cells are whizzing all over the place because there are absolutely no facts or faces or useful data in there to impede them.
So when Sarah Swanson and Max Smith (who co-wrote the wonderful book “Must-See Birds Of The Pacific Northwest”) invite me every year to join their Birdathon Team (The Murre The Merrier), it is not because I have birding skills. Best I can manage is to spot movement in the trees and point and go eee eee eee hoo hoo hoo and hope a knowledgeable person can home in on it before I get propositioned by a chimpanzee.
Really, the only reason to invite me into a birding van is for my entertainment value, my homemade
|Boo Boo lives at our house.|
cookies, and the number of people I can badger to chip in a few bucks to sponsor me. The money goes to the Portland Audubon Society to further their conservation work, right here under the watchful eyes, churning wings, and trailing legs of the Pacific Flyway.
Nobody will poop on you if you don’t contribute, but you might get winked at by a sandhill crane. Can’t beat that, loves.
If you’re badgerable, you can sponsor me by chipping in a few bucks right here. If you like to live dangerously, you could pledge a certain amount of money per bird found. Last year, we scored 120!
"who the heck would rather stay inside and watch TV?"
Me, that's who.
I like birds, really I do, but I don't deliberately go out in search of birds I can't even recognise. Not when it means tromping through the countryside or forests for hours on end.
Ha! Well, I'm a tromper. Actually, I'd just as soon tromp as bird. Birding is not aerobic.
Drat it Murr. Isn't Australian money good enough for you?
An enthusiastic rather than a 'good' birder you may be – but no-one could touch you if salamanders took to the skies.
Ohh! With their little damp wings flapping! Happy day!
Is it that time of year again already? Do you remember how to bake cookies? Your distant cousin, whom I worked for about 45 years ago, got me into birds in a more serious (if you can call it that) way. It's in your genes.
I do remember how to bake cookies. It makes up for a lot of defects in my personality.
There actually have been cases of raining salamanders! Here: http://www.unexplainable.net/simply-unexplainable/it_s_raining_salamanders_and_frogs__organic_matter_2954.php
6) A rapid rainstorm in Boring, Oregon, produced a downpour of hundreds of salamanders.
Not too Boring, in my book.
Huh. Not Boring at all. And in spite of my affection for the beasts, I do think I'd find that a little alarming.
Entertainment value and homemade cookies indeed! I can't wait for this year's trip.
Me too! Headed east! That's where the birds are! (We are going to Appalachia, right?)
I must say, Babe, you and I twins in the land of the birds. I started a life list, but since the notes were in several birding books and I lost one, well that was not a success. Hubby is my better memory, for birds and river ends and trail turns…not so much for maintenance of anything in the house. I just spent and hour today taking down my bird feeders, washing them in bleach water, drying them and putting them away for fall. Guess I am a big bird fan. I also am in tears every day for my little prothonotary (photos on my other blog) that cannot find a female ANYWHERE in my yard.
Man, you've got some nice portraits of Mr. Prothonotary there. Yet another warbler we don't see. Even if we're good seers, which some of us are not.
My best effort was a recent ID of a common bird wearing its local coloration.Really thought I'd found something new…
I'm always finding new stuff, and you'd think real birders would get excited about that, but they don't.
With my uncorrectable astigmatism and giant floaters, I am not a person you'd want on a birding team either. But in my mind's eye, I can still see the finches, thingummys, and whatsits that came to our little feeder years ago. That feeder attached with suction cups to our kitchen window, so it brought them close enough for a blind person to see.
Unfortunately, our cats discovered that if they jumped onto the curtain rod they could get a real good look just before the rod bent in half and they were deposited on the floor. It didn't seem to bother the birds at all, but I got tired of straightening out the rod and got rid of the feeder when spring came.
Your pictures are wonderful. And I'm glad you found a job as cookie-baking team member with the birders. Enjoy this year's tromping!
Tater sticks the top half of her head just above the windowsill and vibrates like mad. I go ahead and let her, except in afternoon light, when the birds can see her.
I got a new 200 mm lens for my camera in Dec 2012 and last fall tried to do bird photos at a park. What I thought were birds flitting about turned out to be leaves falling—duh! FALL! I hope to make it sometime to the Audubon park to attempt bird photos. Just leery about driving there!
Sometimes I take pictures of birds just to zoom in and find out what they are, because I forgot my binoculars.
As the offspring of two very serious birders who kept their binoculars on the dining room table, leaping to their feet screeching that there was a feeble-minded whatnot on the feeder, some of it rubbed off through a kind of environmental osmosis. I never took to the trudging through woods stuff or driving to the East coast to add to the life list, however. My birding expresses itself through feeding them. All the birds of the northeastern forest have heard about my restaurant and drop by regularly. They tip well with their beautiful songs.
You know, really, that's about all I do, too. And I probably don't put out as nice a spread as you do. My whole family does right by birds, but only my brother made a point of staring at them hard.
My husband and I arw moving to a new home, where the back border of the yard is the woods. I am so excited to see new and more birds! I will miss the local northern flicker that beats on my chimney cap every spring, though.
I wish that's all my flicker did. We've got a bunch of perforations in the top part of the house.
I like to think of myself as a birder, but iffy eyesight and unquestionable laziness are hindering my progress toward expanding my life list. Watching an eagle cam every day, though. That counts, right?
Heck yeah. If I can call myself a birder, you can. I don't have a life list. I'm not sure what I'd do with one!
YOu may not be an efficient, sharp-eyed, fully knowledgeable birder, but you are virtuous, which in my book makes you a "good" birder.