Wednesday, April 13, 2005


I’ve come to know a birder. Through reading his reports, I’ve been introduced to a world that I didn’t know existed. Now, I want to be a part of that world.

Over the past few days I’ve been paying closer attention to birds than I ever have before. Yesterday, Bolt asked if I wanted to go birding on campus with him.

We began the day in front of Longview Hall. Bolt lent me his pair of binoculars and told me a few of the basics of birding.

I don’t know how many birds Bolt usually sees when he goes birding, but it certainly seemed like we saw a lot this time.

The first birds we saw were Mourning Doves. I’ve seen these before, although I didn’t know that they were doves. Overhead, we saw Chimney Swifts. They’re big and black. Bolt says that they are often referred to as “cigars with wings” because they have such thin bodies. They look somewhat like Swallows.

Next, Bolt directed my attention to a tree. I took a while getting my binoculars on the bird, but when I did, I saw a pretty little thing with a red head. It’s called a Red-bellied Woodpecker, although its belly really isn’t red. There were plenty of Blue Jays all around. They have harsh sounding calls and flop around clumsily in the air.

I think I knew I was hooked as soon as Bolt pointed to a bright yellow bird high up in a tree: a Goldfinch, he said. I’ve seen Cardinals and Blue Jays, of course, but beyond those, I’ve thought of birds as drab creatures. The Goldfinch proved me wrong. Later on, we saw a House Finch. This type was brownish with a red head. I liked it nearly as much as the Goldfinch.

We saw a Kingbird and a Loggerhead Shrike, and Bolt informed me of the shrike’s violent habits. Both birds were black and white. Like colored birds, this was new for me.

A Red-winged Blackbird was sitting high in a tree. I saw a red spot on its wing, but Bolt said that the yellow line under the red spot was all that was visible. I don’t know what that makes the red spot I saw then…

Starlings, Mockingbirds, Robins, and Cardinals were common. They gave me the feeling that at least I knew something, even if it was only the smallest bit.

We heard a squeaky call. The bird would repeat the call once and then switch to a new one. Bolt said it sounded like a Brown Thrasher, but the sound was coming from high in the tree. We eventually found the bird, and it was indeed a thrasher. Bolt said that he had never seen one that high before.

I would have enjoyed staying out all day, but I had class at 9:30. On the way back, we saw House Sparrows and a Barn Swallow.


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