That is what one South Dakota birder puts by his signature each time he posts a sighting. Every time I read it, I smile in agreement. Sharing the fun and joys (and sorrows) of birding is why I write in this blog and why I wrote my book, Extreme Birder, and why I just took a trip to Minnesota.
Last winter when I went to the “700 Club” gathering in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, I met a woman who was interested in my giving a talk about my big year. She is a winter Texan from Minnesota. Eventually she worked it out with three southern Minnesota groups for me to tell each group about my big year in three talks to be delivered on August 7-8. I drove over with my computer and projector and box of books for sale, a trip of about 500 miles each way. The Minnesotans did an amazing job of advertising my talks and we had a wonderful turnout. But the best thing of all was that I got to tell a whole bunch of very interested people, some of whom were birders, about some of my big year adventures. I was recovering from a cold and felt a bit under the weather, but I was so energized by the telling that I forgot my sickness entirely.
In my reliving of some of the events of 2008, showing pictures of birds and places seen that year, I hope that the people in the audiences were able to really feel that birding can be good and there is so much of beauty and interesting behavior and excitement that can be found when we get outside and go birding. I always tell people that one main reason for my doing a big year is to give me an excuse to have fun, day after day, for a whole year. A bad day birding is better than a day not birding (usually).
A little over a week ago, I went to a local park when I had a free hour before a meeting. I did not expect to find a new year bird, and I did not. What I found instead was a pack of crows and jays squawking and diving into a tree. When I crept closer I located the source of all their fury, an unhappy worried Great Horned Owl, hugging a large branch. A small slice of nature, now embedded in my memory and captured on film. Something to treasure, and to share.
I encourage those of you who love to bird to be “evangelical” about it – tell others, not just other birders, of what fun can be had out there birding. We aren’t just fussy twitchers making boring lists of birds. We do it because it’s fun, or at least I do, and I want others to share in the fun!