WORDS ON BIRDS
Birding Is Fun
May 06, 2017
By Steve Grinley
Birding has a way of keeping us looking
on the bright side of life. The colorful birds of spring lift our
spirits and help give us perspective in what sometimes seems like a
colorless world. Why? Because birding is fun, as Doug Chickering
shares a late April encounter:
have already reconciled myself to the reality that my birding, this
year, will not be the same as it has been. Circumstances have made
chasing and intense birding very unlikely. I think that it is
possible I could be bitter about this, or at least unhappy. And that
was always a possibility. But I have discovered that strangely, the
opposite has happened. I don’t get out as much anymore so those
moments I spend in the field are all the more precious and
cherished. The birds at our feeders deserve special attention and I
have been rewarded with a couple of visits from Pine Warbler and, on
two separate occasions, Fox Sparrow. I don’t think I have enjoyed
similar visits by these birds in past half s much as this year.
“Today I visited an old favorite patch
for the first time this spring: the grove at the Salisbury
Campgrounds. This was my first delightful encounter with the new
season. Nothing really noteworthy, surely nothing for the hotlines
or special attention on e-bird (which I don’t use in any case) but
still it was a great lift to the spirits. There were actually quite
a few birds even with a limited number of species. One large conifer
at the lower entrance to the grove had at least eight Ruby-crowned
Kinglets in it; all flitting and feeding and popping in and out of
the sun. They were my first sighting of Ruby-crowns this year and it
was probably as many in one place as I have ever seen.
“As I walked into the lower area there were grackles, of course, a
few more kinglets and a goodly number of Hermit Thrushes flying up
from the leaf litter to perch on a low branch to give me a
suspicious stare. First Hermits of the year. There were many Hermit
Thrushes all through the Grove which is more or less typical for
this time of year at this location and it served to remind me of
some of the local, special joys of spring birding.
“Then there was the best treat of all. Up on the hill I noticed
movement among the dead branches of a pine tree and there, in the
sun a Solitary Vireo. He moved in the tree with that special
plodding, unexcited determination that is so typical of this specie.
Careful, methodical, he moved about with short flights and little
hops and all the while stayed in the sun and like a starlet on a red
carpet, showed off his fine subtle plumage.
“Solitary Vireo is a special bird for me on so many levels. I had
almost forgotten how basically beautiful is the male Solitary Vireo;
especially as he has just arrived in new finery. Not flashy or
garish his colors are deep and crisp and nicely balanced, with dark
blues and white and olive and an understated yellow at the flanks;
it is a bird for the connoisseur. To be savored and enjoyed at
leisure. Today in the sun he was nothing short of striking.
“I also love this bird as it is a precursor to the oncoming
migrations when, hopefully, the trees will be sporting Blackburnians
[warblers], Tanagers, Bay breasted [warblers], etc. etc. I also take
a secret subversive pleasure at insisting on calling it a Solitary
Vireo. My use of Solitary Vireo is usually met with a quick
correction (“Blue-headed vireo"), or a look of confusion. A mini
revolt against the march of that part of science that can be trivial
and unnecessary. Solitary Vireo it was and in my mind, Solitary
Vireo it will always be.
during the incoming waves of migrations I feel anxious or unhappy
over misses, I will always have the Solitary Vireo, and the others,
and I know I will be able to take a special joy in whatever does
come my way. After all, birding is fun.”
And the fun continued for Doug as just this past week he reported
“Like the bolt of
lightning that startled me from last night’s slumber, it was almost
a shock, a blaze of brilliance in the gloomy dark morning. Not that
the backyard was colorless, even in the cloudy dim light. The lawn
is deep green and the Red-bud tree is in bloom and the jonquils are
bright yellow and white.
was a sunless, dark morning and as Lois and I sat down for our
coffee and breakfast there it was; the bright flash of spring.
Sitting on our hanging feeder a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. He was back
to us, but even then, the pristine white shone in the meager light
and deep cosmic black stood out in sharp contrast to the general
drizzly background. It was a freshly plumaged male reporting for
duty and ready for love. Then he turned and there at the center of
his breast, at the center of the yard, at the center of our awed
attention was that rose red. There is no better way to begin a May
morning than a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at your feeders.”
So what is at your feeders that makes birding fun?
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