Birds of a feather...

Tomorrow we'll introduce you to Roger, another ranger at my park, who has a wonderful collection of baseball cards. We'll begin with the story of his meeting Brooks Robinson. But one of Roger's other interests is birdwatching, as it used to be called, or birding, which is the preferred term now.

One of my roles as a ranger at this park is not only to know about history and cultural resources, but also natural resources, and my weak area has been birds. In the summer especially people approach me and describe a bird they saw on one of the trails and then ask, "what was that?" So this summer I'm determined to know a lot more birds to answer that question confidently more often.

Once you open your eyes to birds--and I only started to after finishing my full-time schooling late in December--you wonder how you could have been oblivious to such beauty and joy for so long. We have a bald eagle living on the river in the park, and it's a delight to see him soaring overhead. I've also enjoyed recently evening grosbeaks (who dart around before cold weather or a storm), dark-eyed juncos, a Townsend's Solitaire, red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, a ladder-backed woodpecker,

a rock wren, white-headed sparrows, magpies, scrub jays and beautiful Mountain and Western bluebirds. For starters.

They are so engaging to watch and  to learn about. I study pictures and songs and go on walks with Roger, who knows them all and identifies them when I'm unsure so I can laser their images into my memory.

My point, and I do have one, is that I think there are similarities between baseball card collecting and birding...such as becoming well-versed and informed about a subject; the thrill of the hunt; the pleasure of finding something new; and so on. With birding, enjoying nature is part of the experience, which has nothing to do with cards but does have something to do with going to baseball games.

Dare I ask, are there any birders out there?

 [Related collectibles and collector urges we've written about: Coca-Cola, Coins, squished pennies, comics (Betty and Veronica, Satchel PaigeWill Eisner and Dan Burr, and more.]


Carl Crawford Cards said...

LOVED birding where I used to live. Where I live now---no birds until spring. Congrats on the new job!

cynicalbuddha said...

If a real birder tells you they're not a collector they're lying. I've never been big into birding but as a biologist I have lots of friends who are serious birders and they all have a life list and talk about it like we talk about our baseball card collections. Sounds like you got yourself a pretty cool job there.

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

I enjoy birding as much as one can living in a city. I put out a few types of seed and enjoy seeing Northern Cardinals, juncos, mourning doves, finches, sparrows and the occasional hawk. I don't enjoy seeing all the pigeons though.

dayf said...

The extent of my birdly knowledge, sadly:


This is not completely my fault as my eyesight is so wretched that if I can see a vague blur of flutter I'm doing pretty good.