I think it was a great idea to go birding at the cemetery on the week of Halloween, props to whose ever idea that was. I was able to tag along to Green Mountain Memorial Park, to go birding with a group of bird lovers that head out with owner of the Wild Bird Center, Steve Frye. It was my second outing with Steve and company, and I felt exceptionally confident of my abilities, maybe it had to do with me having capable binoculars this time. I even took a crack at identifying a raptor, and to my surprise was right on the money. I’m still astounded at how easy it is for experienced birders to identify birds simply by a evanescent glimpse of them or a snippet of their call. Isn’t there a saying about how patient mothers are or something? Well, they should replace mothers with birders because I tell you it is a truly difficult skill that one has to develop and maintain to become a birder. I’m glad there are people like the ones in the birding group that are not just very knowledgeable, but also very inviting. They can smell out a newbie like me and instead of casting me off they are excited to share with me what they know. Like, how a black-capped chickadee and a mountain chickadee differ in that the latter has a broad white eyebrow, or that just because a bird is blue, doesn’t make it a blue jay and a well secluded mourning dove in a tree is not a baby pigeon, whoops!
Well it’s great to see that we birders (I consider myself one now) are a friendly bunch! I was touched by the hospitality in such a way that later that day I decided to take my young cousins on a birding expedition. They cheered in unison when I asked them “¿Quieren ir a ver los pájaros?” although I doubt they’ed ever been birding, but they were game and so was I. So we hopped in the van and they in their car seats and we drove to Waneka Lake, where we walked around the lake and had some close encounters with canadian geese as we made or way to a marsh in the back where a handful of mallards sat. They asked me a lot of questions, some of which I answered and then some of which had me pondering them as well. I realized as we sat on the steps of the observatory deck, the girls switching between binoculars and pointing out the ducks, that the little encouragement and generosity shown to me by the expert birders had trickled down into myself and now my cousins. It makes a big difference when experiencing something new that those that have already been there make an effort to support those who have yet to indulge. Hopefully that adventure we took will ignite a desire for birds and nature in those kids, and they too can one day be engaging the new guy on the bird walk, teaching him what they know about mourning doves and chickadees.