You’ve probably experienced this too – out with a group of birding friends and someone mentions the first time they really, really knew they loved birdwatching – when they were a small child. How amazing (and envious) is seems to me that anyone would just “know” as a child that they had found one of their life’s passions.
Well, that person wasn’t me. I wasn’t a “birder” or “bird watcher” when I was young. Or when I was a young adult. I grew up in rural West Virginia, though, and spent a lot of my spare time exploring the Appalachian hills and woods surrounding my home. I knew the colloquial names for some birds. A Pied-billed Grebe (or any other small grebe or diving duck, really) was a Didapper. Pileated Woodpeckers were Wood hens and every soaring hawk was a chicken hawk. Snipe hunting was a trick we played on our cousins and summer friends from the city. We’d take them out a night and ask them to hold a flashlight over the opening of a bag or sack to attract the Snipe – and secretly laugh at them as they were mobbed by mosquitos!
Still, my interest in birdwatching was there, hiding just below the surface and waiting for the perfect time to make itself known. That time came during a springtime trip along the famous Skyline Drive in Virginia. My wife and I stopped to photograph flowers and couldn’t help but notice several small, dark blue birds flying here and there.
We stopped at the next rest area and bought a copy of Birds of Shenandoah National Park. We thumbed through our new field guide and matched the guide’s photo to our memory – Indigo Bunting!
I was hooked.
When did you become interested in bird watching? Were you one of the lucky ones and just “knew” at an early age? Or were you like me – stumbled upon your interest like finding a lost treasure?
Oh – by the way – the fall migration has started. Go Birding!!
Until next time, Good Birding!