2007 August 20
DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Cogresha from Earth House Hold tagged me with a birding meme. I thought the questions were interesting, so here goes:
- What is the coolest bird you have seen from your home?
My first difficulty here is defining the word home. Even if I could work that out, which isn’t likely, my perennial inability to choose a favorite anything presents another problem. I lived in a house in Papua New Guinea for several months, and from the deck, I could watch Great Woodswallows and Rainbow Bee-eaters and Yellow-breasted Bowerbirds to name a few. Pretty cool, yes? I have seen Bay-breasted and Blackburnian warblers, Rusty Blackbirds, and Wood Ducks at my parents’ home in Missouri. One day, there was a Monk Parakeet outside the apartment where I’m living now.
- If you compose lists of bird species seen, what is your favorite list and why?
I really only keep a life list, so this makes my choice of favorites a bit easier. I enjoy looking back over my list and remembering the triumphant, serendipitous, frustrating, and exhilarating moments that the entries represent. I remember places, people, and details of the experiences when I look back at the list. Too, the list reminds me how much of the world remains to be seen!
- What sparked your interest in birds?
My interest in birds goes back as long as I can remember. I think I made my first life list before I was 10 — maybe even before I was eight. But I did not become a really serious birder until my family moved to a house on a semi-wooded lot in Missouri, and I discovered all manner of warblers, vireos, sparrows, and flycatchers in the trees. At that time (c. 1999), I discovered birding communities on the Internet. Then, my interest running high, I went on my first birding trip ever — a field trip with Greater Ozarks Audubon in May or June 2000. That was the tipping point. That field trip changed the course of my life.
- If you could only bird in one place for the rest of your life where would it be and why?
I’m not ready to settle down just yet. But if I had to choose right now, I’d probably pick somewhere on the Texas Gulf Coast — perhaps the Bolivar Peninsula or South Padre Island. If I lived on the Gulf Coast, I could become a real expert at shorebirds, gulls, and terns, learning their ages, habits, plumages, and voices inside and out. Passerine migration is virtually unparalleled, and the waterbirds are abundant and spectacular. And you never quite know what’s going to blow in off the Gulf. But I haven’t made it to the Pacific Northwest yet, or Maine, or Southeast Asia, or Eastern Africa, or New Caledonia, or the taiga….
- Do you have a jinx bird? What is it and why is it jinxed?
I’m still missing too many birds to single one out. However, the King Rail comes to mind — I still don’t have one despite repeated efforts in suitable locations.
- Who is your favorite birder? and why?
I think a good birder should be like a good well — deep, full, quiet, and refreshing. I enjoy the company of birders who are passionate, curious, and knowledgeable but never (or only judiciously) obnoxious.
- Do you tell non-birders you are a birder? What do they say to you when they find out?
No, not until they get to know me well. Some people ask to come along on my next trip. Some think it makes me (in the words of a former roommate) “a cool nerd.” Others don’t know what to say. That’s OK.