Monday, March 10, 2008

Bird question: reminiscing

Here's something to think about: why are you interested in birds? what got you interested? How long have you been interested?

Think about it and comment with your answer.

Here's my story:

When asked how I became interested in birds, I've usually said that I've always been interested in birds.
Eventually that became, that I've always been interested in things that fly. Anything that flies whether it be big or small. Flying has always fascinated me. Recently though, I've been thinking about it and trying to break it down as far as I can. I think I've done it. I think I've broken it down as far as it will go and found the basis for almost all my interests. They all share one thing in common.
I haven't always been interested in specifically birds. When I was younger I liked to wander more and explore different things. I've only been a true hardcore birder for about 8 or 9 years now. But looking at some of the other things I love to do, it all has one common interest. One thing that it's all connected to.
An interest in Magic. I've always had a strong interest in Magic; doing things that are seemingly impossible. When I was younger, I used to know every trick and routine in the book. I could predict a card you would select, make things disappear and reappear... you name it, I could do it. I was once a master of card tricks. You didn't dare let me shuffle a deck of cards before playing because, invariably, I would come out on top.
I've also had my dreams about magic. Not illusions like our Magicians can do but real Magic. Not making things seem like they've disappeared but really making them disappear. Waving my hand and making clouds vanish, controlling weather, being able to vanish from one place and appear, an instant later, one mile or hundreds of miles away. My favorite thing to pretend to do, was to become invisible. When you're invisible, nobody can see you and you can do whatever you want without anyone noticing.

I had one dream though that not even pretending could replicate. That was to fly. I have always wanted to be able to fly. Ever since I can remember. Not in a plane, or anything, but to fly without the use of anything. No planes, parachutes, helicopters, no mechanical or electrical devices. I just want to walk outside, take two steps and take to the air. To fly like the birds. That has always been my one dream that nothing could replicate.

When I was 6 or 7, my parents, knowing my interest in Magic, took me to see the greatest illusionist of this century. David Kotkin. Know by his stage name: David Copperfield.
I don't remember a lot from his show. Bits and pieces here and there. I do remember two illusions quite clearly though. His "Snow" illusion stuck because I love snow and I love skiing and here was this illusionist producing snow from nowhere right in front of me. The other, was when he produced his "Flying" illusion. That did it. It was a dream we both shared and one the seemingly came true. I haven't seen him since then but his flying illusion remains my favorite. Since then, I haven't found a way to fly myself so I expanded to anything that did fly. Birds became my special interest because they were easy to spot and watch and always a challenge to identify (something I also liked, a challenge). They became my way of living a dream. A dream that I will always have. If there was only one thing that I could do before I die, if I had only one choice, I would want to be able to fly out over the hills and valleys, over the plains, over the mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, over the tundra and back, without having to do anything more than just step into the air and fly.


David Bell said...

hey chris,

i haven't been a hardcore birder for that long...maybe 4 years at most, but i've been into birding in general for the last 10 years almost. i haven't really thought about why, i'm pretty sure it's because they can fly, and are free to go where they want, and i've always wanted to fly and just travel places i've never been.

as for getting into it, i grew up in an outdoors family - no birders or anything - but my parents like to hike and canoe and fish, etc, i'm outside a lot. we went to Whitefish Point for the beach when i was about 7, and stumbled into the banders, who invited us in for a look, and let us help with the banding, carrying, and IDing of birds - we banded about 12 sp. of warblers that day plus many other birds. we came back every spring and fall after that, and the next year i identified a Dickcissel there before anyone else saw it-i think it was around the 7th or so county record-the thrill of finding rarities and just seeing so many different ones keeps me into it still..10 years later, and probably for the rest of my life! :)

have fun in TX, see some good lifers, and break that 200 mark for the year!!! :D what's your #400 for the lifelist going to be?? mine was clay-colored robin at santa ana...3 days after my #350 of great-tailed grackle in houston...and a few days before #450 with black-chinned sparrow in the chiricahuas...aren't tx and az great?

Owlman said...

I agree, I think birds have that magic of flight. I am actually eagerly waiting for the arrival of one of the arial magicins, the Tree Swallows. The last few years I've been tracking them and they've been pretty consistent arriving at the end of March. Watching these guys zooming around the garden is magical! Awesome post I enjoyed how you tied in all your life experiences.

Andrea said...

What a great story, Chris. It's interesting to read about how people got into birding.

I've always been an outdoors person and I've always been interested in birds, but it wasn't until I won a scholarship to an ornithology camp last year that I really go into it. I came to call it "birding immersion camp," because for the first couple days, I was totally baffled. I had never seen so many birds in my life -- and then again, I had never looked for so many birds in my life. The ornithologists and other teen birders were really helpful and patient with me, though. After about the third day, I was totally obsessed, enlightened, and inspired. It felt like I had just opened my eyes for the first time ever.

By the end of camp, I couldn't stop birding, and I haven't stopped to this day; it just seems like a natural extension of my love of the outdoors. I feel like I've always been a birder, I just never knew it. :-)

Parus said...

Great answers everyone! Keep them coming!

David, I was hoping that that darned IVGU would be #400 but it was not to be. Now I'm hoping to hit 399 before I take off for TX on Tues. Then that leaves #400 to chance. Makes it a little exciting.
Actually I kinda hope it's a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher as I step off the plane. lol

Owlman, Yes! I love Tree Swallows. They're sooo cool to watch. Although, I think Violet-greens are even cooler! They reeeaaly look magic with all those iridescent colors.

Andrea, nice answer. I had a similar experience when I went to the World Series of birding for the first time. I had never seen so many birds all at once like that before. I added 40 species to my life list that week. The only difference was that I was already a completely obsessed birder. lol :D

Happy Birding! Keep the answers coming!

Jochen said...

Chris, that is a nice post but it has also earned you the pleasure - I presume - to participate in the 6-Word-Memoir meme.


Visit my blog to see what's going on.

baron said...

I been into hunting and fishing all my adult life. Troutfishing, being a sport of beautiful places, brough me into contact with many many birds over the years. I noticed some of the larger and more rare one i.e. the Great Gray owl and the Peregrine Falcon in the Bitterroots of Montana. Then bad knees and my new dog, a German Shepherd, led me to give up hunting. He has a bad knees as well so we are into SLOW walks though the woods. Now for two years I've been HEARING and NOTICING the woods about me. I joined the M.O.U. in Minnesota, participate in various bird counts and EBird now and have a new hobby. I love it