Saturday, May 19, 2012

Going to the Dark Side

I guess that I should admit that I knew it was a slippery slope on which I stood.  They call them addictions because you lose all sense of being responsible for your actions.  You will do anything for that high.  Just one more time on that sparkly ride.  And, as you may know, I am married to an enabler.  He goes with me right to that edge and he would leap if he could make the high even higher.


What am I writing about?  "Enough with the analogy!" you complain?  Okay.  I am talking about birding and my love of birds.  After taking that birding class, the music of birds became my muse as well as my gateway drug to even more hours of birding.  First you listen for a song of a bird that you know, but that you have not seen often enough.  Or, as you walk in the woods, you hear an odd compelling song that makes you excited for more as you anticipate the shape, color and size of the owner of such an exotic throat.  Then when the reward is that you have started to see birds that you never noticed before, and believe me I have seen at least six new species that have always lived here but never noticed at my doorstep, you are in it for the long haul.  Below is the summer tanager not to be confused with the scarlet tanager and the first time in my life I have ever seen one...and I get a really lousy shot but I was so excited that I have to share!




This is the drug of songbirds.  You start to make notes in your bird book.  You start to begin a "life list."  This is a serious step because most "lifers" have seen thousands of birds and pay small fortunes traveling the world in search of those last few hundred!  You do not want to enter this club lightly.

You start buying donuts to entice your husband to wake earlier in the morning and drive out to the nearby state park.  Then in a few weeks you pack lunches because you are going to be there for hours.  




Most recently we brought our camp chairs and sat near a wild cherry tree full of red fruit that attracted a number of hungry feathered fellows.  As you can see from the photo below I did not get great camera shots and actually the more I am birding the worse my photography is getting---maybe there is a book in that.  Also, please remember that this addict is juggling coffee, camera, binoculars and a bird identification book.




The next level of addiction involves a smart phone.  Perhaps you read my other blog and remember the post about hubby's new phone.  Well, I now think this was a great idea.  We cruise the web, find the Cornell bird site and then listen to the song of the bird we think it is.  Next we get a little crazier and start playing the song on speaker phone!  Sometimes it actually brings in a desperate bird who behaves a little panicky as he hops from branch to branch in a nearby tree looking for the singer.  Perhaps what our phone said was enough to start a fight or entice a mate who is now very horny?


If you think we have now gone over the edge...you are so wrong as the edge is near but not yet at our toes.  We found more room for craziness.  Yesterday I saw a yellow bird that looked very much like a rare warbler.  He looked a little like the hooded warbler but was NOT.  ( And of course I did not get a photo.)  So I listened to his song and then threw back my head and mimicked the call.  It bought him in closer!!  I still do not know what the species ID was, even after study with binoculars, but I can tell you, I sang that damn song up and down the hiking path and hubby was so thankful it was a weekday and that no one was walking dogs or jogging as they do on the weekends.  I cannot carry a tune, but I obviously can mimic some bird songs.


So, if you pass some gray haired lady with a lot of equipment around her neck and with her head to the sky singing weirdly, just give her wide berth.  She is harmless, but she is on a mission and she may walk right over you and never notice.

14 comments:

Brian Miller said...

haha...if i pass i will make sure you have eaten and have plenty of water...smiles....pretty cool though to dance that edge in something that really interests you though...i bought donuts for my wife today...an early anniversary present

Barb said...

Loved your story, Tabor! My husband is long-suffering, too. If we pass each other on some trail somewhere, I'll ask you to sing the bird song so I can get the shot.

Red said...

Tabor, you are exactly like my friend Judy. Although Judy is a birder on steroids.
I also bird but my addiction is not quite so out of control.
Next weekend I do spring bird count for two days.
Enjoyed your humor.

kerrdelune said...

Me too, Tabor, and the addiction is one I cherish. I try to imagine a world without birds and their songs and simply cannot. You elderly??? Never...

Granny Annie said...

So now who was "horny"...your husband or the bird?

Shrinky said...

Oh, this is such a sweet and funny tale, and I've taken note of your cautionary words (grin). Mind, if the birdies in my back yard were as beautiful and varied as yours, I might also succumb to their seductions, too..

Happy Twitching!

Mystic Meandering said...

Your wonderful birding "expotition" makes me smile all over. Maybe it's a 60's thing, becoming a birder :) I can't classify myself as that - yet, but I do admit it's becoming more enticing. I have unexpectedly acquired a pair of very powerful small binoculars from someone who didn't need them - hmmm. Maybe that's where it starts... And the other morning I just happened to be awake at 4 am when a chorus of delightful birds serenaded the morning with their song and my heart wanted to get out of bed and find them... My body said uh-uh...
Looking forward to hearing more of your wonderful wanderings!

Deborah Carr said...

I had to laugh when I read this because just yesterday, I was playing the ovenbird song from the Cornell website on my smartphone and lo-and-behold, one little fellow came a-courting. I played it over and over again and he was getting so frustrated...'where is she? where is she?' A little sadistic we are, no? However, it was my first sighting of the elusive little thing, so I was quite tickled.

Dave King said...

That's quite an accomplishment, to be able to mimic bird song - must be worth a mint to a birder. Fab' post. Thanks for.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Tabor, love this post. If I was a little younger I would be right there with you. Now I sit in my old rocking chair on the terrace with my camera (need a better one) The sound of so many birds I hear at the edge of these woods and wish I could identify...

Robert Sobczak said...

You make a compelling case. Is there a 12 Step Birding Rehab class?

Dave said...

My, you are becoming addicted to bird watching Tabor. But I can imagine that it is fun. Enjoy - Dave

Pauline said...

you are a funny woman! Have you read Julie Zickefoose's wonderful book, The Bluebird Effect? This reminds me of her self descriptions!

Anita said...

Very often now, I tune into the sounds of birds. Enthusiastic bird watchers like you, make me even more interested.

My first eye-opener was during my college days when a friend of mine told me that going out into the woods on Sunday mornings was his church; with all his tools that you mentioned (minus the smart phone), to watch and listen to his beloved birds.

He was an artist and therefore, loved John James Audubon.

My husband has a good pair of binoculars which are never handy when I run to the window to see a bird. After reading your post, I think I'll find them and keep them handy for interesting sightings. :)

I'm happy for you and your husband; that you can experience this joy together. Why not!