I have a lot of funny stories about birding. Let’s start with the 2 years I spent getting out my CD-set of bird songs every time I heard a particular bird calling, trying desperately to figure out what it was, only to discover (eventually) it was a chipmunk.
Or, how about the time I managed to convince myself that a Great Blue Heron (one of the most readily identifiable birds around) was a Tri-colored Heron because its feathers were hanging at a weird angle, making a pattern of color around its neck I hadn’t seen before.
Then there’s the time I was sure I was seeing a Louisiana Waterthrush only to realize I was looking at a female Red-winged Blackbird. While I think all birders have been fooled by a female Red-winged Blackbird, I’d bet there aren’t too many who thought they might be a Louisiana Waterthrush.
But besides my identification mishaps, I also have physical ones. For example, at the end of this month’s Wednesday morning bird walk (which I was leading), I got excited trying to see a bird in a tree right above us and I walked right into a concrete bench and fell over it, landing on my rear. Fortunately, my fellow birders managed to catch me enough to keep me from falling all the way over the bench and onto the ground.
There’s also the time I was so busy looking up that I walked into a branch that smacked me right in my wide-open mouth. I guess that’s better than a friend of mine who made the mistake of looking up with an open mouth just in time to catch a not-so-tasty snack.
Oh, and then there’s the time I drove off the road trying to identify a hawk perched on post at the side of the road. Friends, don’t let friends bird and drive.
Perhaps it’s all of these antics that often give me the feeling that the birds are as amused watching me as I am watching them.
On our Saturday morning bird walk, which I was also leading, we discovered a family of Eastern Kingbirds. It appeared the baby had fledged and Mom and Dad were trying to encourage it to start feeding itself (sound familiar, parents?). But the baby wasn’t ready to give up on getting spoon (or beak) fed.
Perched low in a shrub near eye-level, we had quite a treat watching these wonderful flycatchers swoop in and encourage the baby to make an effort. Baby, on the other hand, demanded to be fed loudly, squealing at Mom and Dad with a bright pink, open mouth. No tasty treat for Baby either.
I love Eastern Kingbirds. They’re the easiest flycatcher to identify by sight. The white rim along the tip of their tails and their size along with their pure white breast make them striking and distinct. That’s what makes a bird a favorite for me–easily distinguishable features.