Friday, November 15, 2013

Sometimes The Birds Come to You

I may not be getting out to see the birds as much as I'd like - that is to say, not at all of late, and not for some time to come - but that doesn't stop the birds from coming to me. Those feathered visitors help me keep my sanity in a life gone crazy.

The normal craziness is here in abundance, of course, with house finches and house sparrows monopolizing the feeders, as well as the more or less regular visits from jays, magpies, chickadees, quail and doves. It is the occasional, unusual visitors that really make me remember the excitement of birding however, and as fall migration has advanced there has been some of that excitement. A western wood-pewee opted to use the fence as a rest stop for a few sallying forage flights several weeks ago, and more recently a ruby-crowned kinglet picked over the insects on the aspen tree with single-minded ferocity. In the past couple of weeks, the dark-eyed juncos have begun to return, foraging on the deck and under the shrubbery, and reminding me of the importance of increasing the millet in my seed mix and sprinkling some seed kernels under my office shrubs. It's not much, but at the moment it's about all I have.

Times will change, as they always do, but it is also equally important to remember the ordinary and appreciate its extraordinariness. Several vital dates are coming up in the next few weeks that will create quite the upheaval, and I hope I'm able to keep my balance. But even if a bird falls, it doesn't stop flying, and neither shall I.

Take flight, each day, no matter where your migration takes you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Am I Still a Birder?

It's hard to believe that not only is November already here, but that it's well advanced. This year is especially poignant for me, what with different family, work, and school issues that have arisen in the past months, and it has me questioning whether or not I can still fly.

Fly, that is, as a birder. In all the year, I've only gotten two new lifers, and the most recent was more than four months ago. My schedule is such that there are too many demands on what little time I have, and I rarely get out into the field at all. On a recent trip when I did manage some time with my field equipment, my binocular harness felt strange and my binns didn't seem to fit in my hand any longer. I still greatly enjoy my backyard birds and have marveled at a few brief fall visitors different from my normal guests, yet even refilling feeders, cleaning the bird bath, or organizing my store of birdseed seems too daunting a task for the rare minutes I have.

But how many minutes must be spent with wing and feathers to truly be a birder? I'm fortunate that my career leads me along internet connections and through published pages to all corners of the globe, spending a great deal of time with many birds in spirit. I long to see them in person, to spread my own wings even as I watch them spread theirs.

Obligations - work, family, home, school, community - are heavy weights for me to carry, and a burden that few share to help me lift higher. I can lift them, and I do, but what burdens one carries often keep them anchored to what they never wanted. Some I want, some I never realized I wanted, some I just plain never wanted. But how to choose between them? How do birds find their way?

It may be prophetic that these thoughts come to me in fall, a time of migration when I long to migrate myself, in more ways than one.