Have You Ever Tried Bird-Watching?
By: Sarah Green
January is National Bird Watching Month! This is your call to head outside to spot a feathered friend. While you may not be inclined to travel the world outfitted to spot that one rare bird to mark on your checklist just yet, it’s still a great opportunity to become aware of the creatures that share this environment with.
After a long day of work, try unwinding with a stroll around your neighborhood with your eyes peeled for birds. Perhaps you’ll see a blue jay riding the tail of a noble sharp-shinned hawk, taunting the raptor for attention like a failed comedian. Suddenly what you saw was more than just two birds flapping around. The blue jay seems to resemble your nit-picking coworker. The world seems to get a little smaller when you notice the parallels of nature and your daily life. Creatures tend to develop personal symbolism for birders.
It is a very special feeling, making a place truly feel like home. Back home in New England, I can be sure to see Chickadees at my bird feeder each morning and that if I take my dogs on a walk around dusk, a nesting pair of Barred Owls will be chattering with each other in trees nearby. With a little awareness, I can spot them moving from tree to tree. Now residing in Florida, I have a whole new set of birds to get to know. I can get to delve into research about strange animals I’ve never seen before. They may just be a daily sight living among me, but chances are they will provide some entertainment if I watch them for long enough. Birders know a place is truly home when they’re able to dish out a few facts on a few passing fowl.
The truth is, everyone is a birder! All you have to do is keep doing what you’re doing, while keeping an eye open for birds. After a while, your hikes might be accompanied by a field guide or you might bring binoculars while walking your dogs. It just takes some curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. You might start joining groups at your local Audubon society, or pick up acclaimed books about fowl, like Project Puffin or H is for Hawk. The changing seasons might seem to matter a bit more to you in a way that you didn’t expect because it means migrations– and more unique birds to look out for!