Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spark Bird and Birding Mentor

It wouldn't be a bird blog if I didn't talk about what started me birding. I got started in birding late in life - in my 40's. My uncle, a long-time resident of North Carolina, is a dedicated birder for 20+ years. During a visit three years ago, he took me birding. My first un-assisted sighting was a plastic owl (I was so sure it was real)! I wasn't sure that this hobby was for me, but as I stood by some reeds at a marsh, trying to focus my binoculars on an egret, a red-shouldered hawk rose from the grasses and perched there for several minutes. I was enthralled and hopelessly hooked. When I returned home to Pennsylvania, I found myself constantly noticing birds - in the air, on the ground, and perched on wires and trees. It became a problem when I was driving and I annoyed friends when my attention would drift to what was outside the window or in the sky. I consider myself strictly a novice, but am enjoying the learning experience of recognizing species and adding them to my list - now up to 176 and hopefully to get over 200 this year.

So the red-shouldered hawk is my spark bird and my Uncle Jim is my mentor. He taught me to color in the lines when I was little - I vividly remember laying on the dining room floor at Grandmom's house, struggling to impress him with my coloring prowess. He gave me the gift of coloring and now he has given me the gift of birding. I am very grateful. Thanks Uncle Jim!

Pete Dunne, in his book "More Tales of a Low Rent Birder" says it best:

"Many, if not most birders, can trace their interest and their development to one special person who took them under a wing. Who taught them the skills and the lore. Who initiated them into the fabric of birding society. This mentor and pupil bond is key to birding, maybe irreplaceable. It helped make birding what it is. It serves to hold it together. And it guides us as we navigate a course through and uncertain future."


RNKathleen said...

My daughter, the bird blogger! I'm so proud. Like your first day of school. For clarification: Your friends and I are only nervous when you are driving and paying more attention to the birds in the sky then the 18 wheeler barreling close beside us. Love you, Mom

Lynne said...

Great post Beth! It's a peek into who you are. I personally would like to thank Uncle Jim too because if he hadn't given you your start birding, I never would have met YOU and made such a good friend!!

KatDoc said...

"BWD" = "Birding While Driving." My family hates it, too. Nice post about your uncle. I didn't realize you were such a new birder - you have already seen and done a lot more than I did in my early years.

I'll bet you hit 200 this year.


Beth said...

Mom - awwwwww, thanks.

Lynne - my Uncle is great. You would love him.

Kathi - and I thought I was slacking on my life list after only 3 years. Can't wait to hit 200! Then it will be a party!

MeLtAmOrFoSe said...

Great picture!
I just loved it!