Essays

Birds, Birds, Birds

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Wild bird watching is an ever-increasing activity in many parts of the country. Currently there are over 50 million birders in the US.

Some birders walk the woods, fields and marshes counting and accounting for birds of all kinds.

Others, too busy at desk jobs or less inclined to be out in the wilds (with no-see-ums and deer flies) often sit by a window, binoculars near computer, ready to catch occasional glimpses of the goings-on of feathered friends.

Makes no difference which method you choose. If you’re looking at a wild bird, you’re a birdwatcher.

Here in Carpenter Country we’ve observed three separate bluebird hatchings this year. A pair of adult bluebirds feathered their first nest in early March and haven’t stopped raising chicks since. Last week’s count stands at three nestings and 14 successful hatches.

During that time, four hummers no bigger than bumblebees began vying for the sugar water in the feeder hanging in a nearby tree. After much darting, zigging and zooming, everyone got their fill of nectar.

July also marked the hatching of two mockingbird chicks. Their nest, cradled in the crook of a Crepe Myrtle, was rocked one afternoon by thunder, lightning, wind, and three inches of rain. Mom Mockingbird held down the fort through it all and the next day stayed the course again while the grass under her bush was mowed.

So what makes us watch birds?

Could be hearing morning birdsong calms our senses and fortifies us for the day ahead.

Perhaps their dedication to work of nest building and raising their chicks inspires us to do our jobs better.

Or maybe when a bright red cardinal flits past our window we just like to glance away from the computer screen and for a little while be in touch with nature.

Then again, we might not even need a reason–birds are simply amazing, and we love watching them.

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