We’ve been watching a birdhouse in the back garden for the past several weeks as mom bird and dad bird (?) go endlessly in and out. Lately, there had been a chorus of little chirps coming from the house. Baby birds! Maybe three we thought, based on our expert analysis of those chirps.
Well, just this weekend no less than seven little chicks decided to make a go at life and leave the nest. It was chaos.
At least three couldn’t fly very well and traversed the fence line into neighboring gardens while being chased/helped along by my daughter and her grandma rummaging behind bushes with all sorts of cardboard boxes to use as temporary nests. Another couple trickled out and were seen and then not seen (I guess they flew away). Our dog was frantically sniffing around and acting like a lunatic (we tried our best to keep her away). Finally, one bird decided it wasn’t interested in flying and wanted my daughter to be her mom.
With it being late spring/summer it’s definitely bird season here in Scotland. I wrote about irruptions, getting binoculars, and the book What It’s Like to Be a Bird two years ago and I miss having them around at the moment (damn you house renovation).
The moment reminded me of the recently published A Once in A Lifetime Bird, a fantastic story and a great primer on the connection between birders, technology, and climate change.
…Chris just kept thinking about the birds. This moment, in birding lingo, is called the “spark,” when a person sees something that inspires them to be a birder for life. (Nearly everyone I talked to for this story had a spark and volunteered their story whether I asked for it or not.)
Since then, Chris has been an avid birder and, like many avid birders, is a frequent user of an app called eBird. Naturally, bird watching today involves going out into the world, encountering something wonderful, strange, perhaps even profound or moving, and then logging it on your phone.
Along with Merlin, which helps people identify species of birds, eBird lets people keep track of the ones they’ve seen and, in doing so, become part of a crowdsourced, citizen-science mission. Whether users care or not, the millions of birds being observed tell scientists about huge patterns in climate change.
While the hobby of birding and the birders who do it might seem hard to identify with for some, anything that can connect us more to nature is a good thing. As much as we don’t like to admit it, most of us are birders.
The planet’s greatest threat is people that “have no connection with the natural world and don’t care.”
Birders may be overeager, but in many ways, they overcome the biggest obstacle to a sustainable future: apathy.
I think my daughter just had a “spark” moment. We all definitely had some kind of moment.
While I still don’t have my binoculars this experience piqued my interest and, as the article says, “To see a bird is to bird. That’s all!.”