Thursday, July 23, 2009
When I started birding, and a father's impact in the early years
My family, I am the tallest girl (about eight years old), standing in front of my mother. My oldest brother Jay (about nine) is to the left, Greg (less than one) the baby is in my mothers arms, and the rest, Gordon (about four), Veronica (about three), Teresa (about two), and Lisa (about 5).
Mark and I just got back from two events where he spoke. We were gone Saturday thru Monday, coming home late in the morning, and left to fly to San Diego Tuesday about 9 AM, arriving back home about 8:PM tonight.
A question I am asked everywhere I go, is what got me started birding. I have to honestly say, after much reflection upon the matter; my dad's love of the outdoors, and his taking me fishing as a very young child was probably what got me started.
I did not get hooked, on birding until my boys were 2 and 3 years old. But the one event I remember was playing with the worms my dad was fishing with; and his efforts to point out the birds that were flying past us, the big Great Egret. Great Blue Heron, the American Pelican, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird flying by (they scared me, as I was sure it was really a giant bee). The bird that got my goat was the Belted Kingfisher. One flew past on this particular day we were watching birds, but I could not see it. But a Kingfisher. I imagined the beautiful jewel crested golden crown atop his magnificent royal head, a staff held magically by his wing, and thought it the most wonderful creature that ever existed.
(This was the same day my father learned to never take me fishing if he was going to use frogs as bait. I had been playing with them also, and became hysterical when one was used to catch a fish. That day it was only the one!)
It was not until years later, while camping with my in-laws, who were birders, and had binoculars, that I actually got to see the Kingfisher. I had to laugh out loud, remembering my first impressions of this magnificent bird. There was no golden crown, no staff, no jewels. But instead he sported a wonderfully large bill, which had a small fish in it. He rattled off his call as he flew by us, and I was hooked. We were very poor, and very young, so it took about a year before I got some binos for myself.
Super heavy 10x50 binos from Sears, with a zoom lens. There were $69, and that was a lot of money in 1980. But I had them for years and years, and loved them dearly. I donated them to Audubon, and they sold for $10 at the rummage sale they were having. I still wish I had kept them, but the older gentleman who purchased them was thrilled, and was sure he could get them in working order again. It had been a long painful road learning how to even find birds with them, they had a narrow field of view, and I had no one to teach me the trade. It was not until years later, moving from the Wichita Kansas area, up into Washington State that I finally had opportunity to learn. The Tahoma Audubon had classes, and my husband finally talked me into taking a class with Ken Brown, who has, and still teaches intermediate birding.
My life has never been the same, and my enjoyment and passion for birding, the natural world, and the very adventure of learning the wonders of this world we live in, has only grown. I love the sounds of birds, the amusing mannerisms, the traditional roles they play in the family structure, so much like our own lives. Mother tends the children, and dad provides, until the children are a bit older. Sibling rivalry, fighting over food, getting the attention. With birds, the squeaky wheel, or the loudest and pushiest baby, DOES get the most food. It is utterly fascinating, and wonderful, and fills my life with joy.
Birds are God's treasures, and I am so grateful for them. (Not the Starling, or House Sparrow however!)
Anyway that is my story, and I am sticking to it.