Don's Jersey Birding: Remember why we love birding
Our annual "Birding for Beginners" event is my favorite time of year.
Photo courtesy of Marie Longo
From time to time with whatever we do in life, we need to reinvigorate ourselves. It's easy to feel a little world-weary or to take things for granted at times. As veteran birders, we tend to search more for the infrequent visitor and look past some of the birds we have learned to love over the years. We allow the beautiful azure of the Blue Jay or the wonderful trills of the Song Sparrow go by without a second look. But I have a sure fire way to bring back the same feeling of excitement and discovery that you felt on your very first day of birding.
The answer is not in a new book, on a webpage, in a trial bottle, or a new supplement that you can buy on late night TV for $19.95. The answer is simple - introduce someone new to birding. I promise it will be the cure for what ails you. All birds will be new again and you will look at every species the way you did many years ago when you beheld them for the first time.
It should be a rule that every birder needs to take a child out birding at least once a year.
Photo courtesy of Marie Longo
"Look at the beautiful colors on that bird!" exclaimed an excited student. I was quickly reminded of the stunning blues and purples of the Common Grackle.
Another beginner heard a very sad song and asked what it could be. I explained that is how the Mourning Dove got its name. I remembered way back to when I first heard that sound from my bedroom window and thought it is was the call of an owl. Yellow-legs lined the marsh floor with their feet barely covered by water.
"How do they stand on the water like that?" a puzzled beginner asked. We all had to smile, but the new eyes reminded us how exhilarating seeing nature in its authenticity really was. Sometimes we tend to forget that.
Helping beginners reminds us of when we wondered what that little yellow bird with the black mask was.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Nicol
An Osprey that flew overhead brought a gasp from the crowd, and I heard a quiet "oh my" from our group when a delightful White-crowned Sparrow decided to make an appearance. We pointed out a territorial dispute between a couple of Robins, and the drumming of a Downy Woodpecker delighted of our eager novices.
Our annual "Birding for Beginners" event is my favorite time of year. With the renewal of Spring, we can also renew our birding spirit and remember why we love this thing we do so much. We can hark back to the day we saw our first Red-tailed Hawk or wondered what that little yellow bird with the black mask was flitting through the grasses. This Spring invite someone new to take up birding. Show them all the birds you love and the places that have become dear to your heart, tell them all your birding stories, and let them thumb through all your old field guides. It is then that you will remember why you love birding so much.
Don Torino is the President of Bergen County Audubon Society.