I’ve talked here about my “bird issues,” how despite my being an animal person wholeheartedly, I’ve never really liked birds, except for the big, impressive birds of prey (‘charismatic megafauna’ anyone?). There’s just something twitchy, unpredictable, and more than a bit creepy about them to me. All of them – in a sweeping generalization kind of way. And really, since I’ve mostly lived in fairly urban areas, I’ve been too busy paying attention to other animals where I can find them to notice something that’s always seemed insignificant to me as birds have. And then I came here to Appalachia, where birds are the most abundant wildlife that I encounter regularly. They are everywhere, always. And it turns out that the three-year old really digs birds.
So, last fall, we went and bought a bird feeder for the front yard – which has now multiplied into three in the front yard and two in the backyard. And I dusted off that Audubon Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region that’s been sitting largely unused on my nature writing bookshelf for years, sat down at the front window, and I have forced myself to start paying attention. And this act has surprised me, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Such a diversity of birds. Such an unexpected thrill when I see a new one and *need* to figure out what it is (“I saw an eastern bluebird in the park today!”). Such fun to pore through the book with that three-year old, identifying what we look at together. Such sadness for four long days after a Terrible Squirrel Incident when the front feeders had been emptied and few birds came to visit.
I will likely never be a bird person, not even when The Toddler tells me she would like a *pet* bird. But I am learning to appreciate them, for the first time. And I guess it isn’t only the big ones that can mean something to me.