Bird brained stories!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Crossing over to the dark side

It starts innocently enough. Someone gives you a birdfeeder. You hang it up. Pretty soon, you realize you need more feeders to keep all your avian visitors from pecking each others' eyes out at the black oil sunflower station. Before you know it, you start keeping a list of birds that visit your yard.

Yes, innocent, even benevolent beginnings. Watch out. Next thing you know, you'll find yourself making a reservation for a blind viewing of prairie chickens strutting their stuff. At 4am. Two hours from home.

Just what happened that led this city girl from feeding cardinals to scheduling the rare opportunity to become a prairie chicken voyeur? And even paying for that voyeuristic experience?

Simple. You feed birds, you start to discover how cool they really are. Your interest grows, you read some books, you start taking photographs. You sign onto birding lists, join birding clubs.
Maybe do a Christmas bird count or two. And discover that people with this kind of interest in birds are pretty cool, too. That's how it happened for me, though in all actuality, I have had a keen interest in all things feathered since a young age. At one point, around age 10, I entertained thoughts of becoming an ornithologist. Most people had no clue what an ornithologist was, and nodded indulgently when I shared that dream. I didn't follow that path, but becoming a serious birder has allowed me to pretend I did, at least when I do counts, go out in the field or, like I'll do in about a week, get up at the unreal hour of 3am to go sit in a blind and watch procreating prairie chickens.

I'm told by those who've gone before me it's an "experience not to be missed." Now of course, these are the cool people telling me this. I know they're the cool people, because they all are birders.

Buena Vista Prairie Chicken Habitat


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