Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Why birds?

I don't know if anyone has ever asked me outright, "Why birds? Why are they so fascinating to you? Why not squirrels, or whales, or horses?"
But I see the question in the faces of those non-birders. They don't get it. Why would a sane person stare at birds for hours? Or stare down long highways for hours, to maybe get a chance to see a bird they have never seen before? Or WORK with BIRDS?

Now, squirrels and whales and horses are fascinating in their own way. But I'm not a squirreler. Or a whaler. Or an equestrian.
I'm a birder.

So, why birds?
Well, have you got a few hours to hear all the reasons? No? Okay. I will keep it short.

1. Ease of access.
Our not-quite one acre piece of land has seen at least 61 different species of bird. And those are just the ones I have seen or heard myself. There are most certainly more out there, just invisible to my eyes or silent to my ears.

And sometimes, they alight on my fingertips.

Birds are the easiest form of wildlife to attract to your yard. Seed, suet, insects, water, a place to rest and a place to nest. That's all they need. And in return, they stick around and make life brighter. It's simple. It's fun. It's rewarding.

2. Variety
There are nearly 10,000 different types of birds on our planet. So what if there are zillions of types of insects and so on. Birds are easier to see. :)

All shapes and sizes and colors:
Osprey eye contact
Huge, fierce osprey

Victor E.
Tiny, fierce ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Prothonotary warbler Lake Isabella
Traffic light prothonotary warblers.

flicker on the sidewalk
Fat, brown flickers.

GBH Oxbow
Sleek, powerful great blue herons.

And it's not too difficult to find fuzz.
Crazy PIWO hairdo
Rebel teenager pileated woodpecker.

Macro duckling
Silky fuzzy baby mallard.

3. Coolness
Flight. Unbelievably long migrations. Songs that stir our blood.

Junior, Flight training
Our sweet, misdirected Junior, during his flight demonstration training in Illinois.
Look at those wings. Very cool.

A young Cooper's Hawk on our front fence, chowing down on fresh house sparrow.
Look at those talons. Tres' cool.

Close up barred owl
A sleepy Barred Owl in our side yard, who didn't care that I was 10 feet from him.
Look at those eyes. Uber-cool.

And a face that sums up all that I love and hold dear to my heart regarding birds.
I get to hold this on my hand. To stare into fathomless eyes and see myself in them.
I feel the grip of hundreds of pounds-per-square inch.
Sometimes they scream at me in their language.
Two-inch talons sometimes draw my blood.
When they breath out, I breath in.
Sylvester disapproves of snow
"You know that I tolerate you because I choose to, right?"


T.R. said...


NCmountainwoman said...

Oh, what a great series of photographs. The juvenile Pileated Woodpecker is absolutely amazing. I just love his attitude!

Beth said...

awesome. I am very jealous of your job.


MObugs said...

Well said, says I, a fellow birder.

I must confess though, my heart lies with the zillion insects...LOL

Barbaro said...

Good explanation.

I still don't get it, though. I like birds just fine, but I'll never be a birder.

Mary said...

Honestly, you don't need to be a "birder" to adore them or appreciate them. Right now I have a Carolina Wren sleeping in a nest on my front porch. I'm all warm and cozy inside because of that.

Susan, you're the best.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I expect it's the same as any other fascination/love/obsession - it makes perfect sense from the inside, and none at all from the outside.

I love the punk woodpecker. and the "traffic light" - perfect description.

Susan said...

Funny -I know that "look" and a bit of a smirk that goes with it...but being a birder, I don't really care. I just like how it makes me feel...no scratch that...I love how it makes me feel! My own private window on the world....when they fly, I'm there.

Kathiesbirds said...

Very Cool post! Love that traffic light!