From Our President: Birding: A Wonderful Obsession

Bird-watchers are a unique group of people. We share an obsession, yet each of us reaches that point in a different way. Outsiders might not always understand what makes us the way we are, but if they watch, listen, and learn more about birds, eventually they might share our quirkiness. As a child, I watched yard birds with my mother from the kitchen window. Backyard birding is still a great joy in my daily life. I know many of you enjoy this aspect of bird-watching as well!
 
Conversations with people in the birding community can often be difficult for non-birders to understand, especially when we are describing the color of lores or primaries or undertail coverts. We tend to be so absorbed in our bird descriptions that we forget how we must sound and appear to a non-birder.
 
One of the first bird walks I attended was led by an older gentleman, who led the group of novices like an amiable pied piper. We followed him far off the beaten path into the thickets of a field on the island of Oahu and waited while he whistled and called to the birds. Miraculously to us, a beautiful shama thrush appeared, and then another! The birds flitted from bush to bush, checking us out and searching for the interloper to their territory. One voiced displeasure at the interruption, and then they both flew back into the dense thicket. Our leader explained that the birds had a nest and we should move along. He truly gave us a gift of seeing these beautiful birds. We were amazed, astounded, and yes, “hooked” on the treasure hunt of birding.
 
I often think back to that bird walk because it gave me a sense of discovery and exploration, and I yearned to know more about the birds we had seen. How do they survive in this changing world, on a planet molded by human needs? The questions linger, and have made my love of birding more than just a joyful pastime—it has fueled a commitment to help all wild things survive. 
 
Join us for a bird walk this spring—we all have stories to share about our birding obsessions!