Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
We just finished watching the birding show broadcast on Channel 2 last Monday: “Birding: The Central Park Effect.” This is Saturday. We taped the original showing, but accidentally chose the Spanish-language channel, so had to find it and tape it one more time.
What I liked best were the comments of the woman who guides birders in the park. She finds a warbler with her binoculars, and as she tells her birding companions where the bird it and where it is going you can hear the intensity and urgency in her voice. She has the enthusiasm and expressive voice of a good sports announcer. What she sees is important and meaningful.
Later in the program she sits in her apartment with her book of lists, marking the bird species seen that day, reviewing entries from other days. She has 30 years worth of personal records, and would have more if her mother had not tossed her childhood notebooks. She talks of daily goals – the number of species seen – and weekly and monthly goals.
I’ve been there and done that. The challenge of seeing one more species today than I did yesterday always added interest and energy to my birding. My records date to the early 1960s. day-by-day accounts of species seen – where and when. The memories are written in those numbers.
I’ll be out Sunday morning with a grandson. Mid-July isn’t highlight time for birds, but there will be things to see. I haven’t hooked him yet on lists, but I’m working on it. Sightings become a collection as well as a challenge as well as pleasure of the moment.
There is a note of seriousness at the end of the show as various Central Park birders comment on the declining number of birds seen, decline evident in as small an area as a single city park. It’s the same here. I want my grandson to see everything possible now, while the species we have still exist.
Bird species don’t have to actually be extinct to be extinct on a personal basis. If you have to drive a day or two to look for a bird that is found only with extraordinary good fortune, for all intents and purposes that species is extinct for you.
Bird more now, and join the effort to save what we have.
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