Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Birds?

Birding is something that I started doing seriously about two years ago, and it's something that I really enjoy.

The birder Chris Cooper in the documentary,"Birders: The Central Park Effect" summed up some of the reasons to "bird" or look at birds quite well:

1. The beauty of the birds. Birds are gorgeous! They fly! It looks like fun! And they come in so many colors! The history of humans thinking that birds are beautiful is well-recorded and ancient. Also, so see raptors like a Peregrine Falcon hunting is absolutely unbelievable! So wild!

2. The beauty of being in an outdoor natural setting. I have been to places in Oregon (you will see some of them with me) that are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking! A lot of times when I am "birding" I am doing a lot more standing around and enjoying the view than actually looking at or looking for birds.

3. The joys of the chase (the hunt). It's fun to sneak and stalk to get a close look at the bird. It's also exciting, in the buildup before going out birding, to think about what birds you are going to see, what you expect to see, or what you wish to see (it's only a matter of time before I look in some undergrowth while I am at the coast and see a Siberian Accentor). 

4. The joy of collecting.
I love lists of all kinds. I love to keep lists of birds and where I see them. I have a list for my school, for my house, my parent's house... and I love competitive listing! I am very competitive, and it is fun for me. It is also very accessible for non-birders to understand the competitive side of doing it. 

5. The joy of puzzle-solving. This not only is about making tough identifications (I have to admit, I am terrible at female finches and ducks), but about figuring out where birds will be and when. Searching for good habitat for a certain species, and
 then looking for that species in that habitat. Awesome!

6. The pleasure of scientific discovery. I love researching things. I find out so much not only about the birds, but their habitats as well. And it's fun when you see new behavior! A Western Scrub Jay hammering away at an acorn wedged on an oak branch, a Steller's Jay cramming it's beak full of peanuts. Hilarious and interesting! 

7. The Unicorn Effect--this is when you've heard about a bird for a long time, and studied it, and then you finally see it. It's so cool!

There are lots more reasons that I love birding, and I will add to this as they come to me.

    At the beginning of the year I set a goal to reach 245 species in Douglas County. After a quick start with some good county birds found alone and by others (Snow Goose, Glaucous Gull, Horned Lark, Pine Grosbeak, Williamson's Sapsucker) I was encouraged by some local experts, one of whom holds the county record, to shoot for 265+.