In July 2004, a Carpenter Country essay talked about the wonders of birding and asked the question: what makes us watch birds? Our answers covered a wide range of reasons and ended with–birds are simply amazing and we love watching them.
After weeks of field observation, we believe we’ve found an even better reason: people and birds behave in similar ways.
Comparable personality quirks showed up when we filled the hanging bird feeders. Finches and chickadees swarmed in from everywhere. During the frenzied swinging, swaying and wing flapping that followed, the feeders emptied like a buy-one-get-one-free sale at the supermarket.
We noted some of the seed filled a bunch of small stomachs, but most rained down on the ground. And did these eager eaters jump from their perches to clean up the mess they’d made?
No, they flew away.
Then fifteen doves, two Cardinals, five sparrows and a blue jay swooped in. Within minutes everything that was lying around was gone.
It seems that some birds, like some people, were neatniks, while others were–well, somewhat messy.
Everywhere we looked there were birds that reminded us of all the traits we have in common. There were joiners and loners. The early and the late bunch. The flocks in the birdbath behaving much the same as the crowd on the beach. We observed stay-at-homes and those who travel south in the winter and north in the summer.
Hmmm! Now that we really know what really makes us watch birds, another question comes to mind. What happens when birds of a feather flock together? Do they watch people?