Monday, May 12, 2008

UUs Are For the Birds!

Where do I begin? Mother's Day weekend has been a profoundly, moving experience for me and I don't think I am alone...since I wasn't alone. Accompanied by Orland Carra, Jeff, Marianne, Sandy and Alex Madzia, Bill and Laura Randolph and our fearless leader, Kibbie Kibbel, not to mention countless others from around the world, I wandered through sacred wilderness, listening for a particular song...watching for a twitch in the leaves, or a flutter of tiny wings.

I am a birder.

Who knew? I mean, I have always been a forest child. When I was little, my Mother would take us on long walks in the woods and teach us about all the wild things she knew. My father handed down a love of natural beauty...the colors in the sunset...fall leaves. They taught me the names of the more common creatures and to recognize the songs and sounds. Dad always had a bird feeder. He taught me how to use binoculars to get a very close look at Cardinals and Blue jays, Mocking Birds and Sparrows. When I grew up, life crept in and though I always enjoyed nature walks ("Wood's Tromping", we would call it), it wasn't until the late 1990's that I really began to pay serious attention to birds.

I lived in a sweet, little cabin in Yellow Sulphur Springs, VA. Our kitchen window looked out on to a, truly, magical place. Surrounded by forest, the buildings that were visible were very few, very old and fit the scene like a Norman Rockwell painting. I'd sit at that window for hours, watching our feeder, as I looked through various bird books for the names of all of our visitors. I learned a lot that year, but nothing compared to what I learned in a single day at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor, Ohio on May 10th, 2008; International Migratory Bird Day.

I am a birder.

It's a new label for me. Like when I first called myself an artist, though I had been one, all my life. Today I feel just a bit more real, if you know what I mean. I've started my list...and now I'm hooked. I'm real. I've enlisted. I'm a birder.

As evidence of my "officialness", I submit the following list:

1. American Bald Eagle

2. American Redstart

3. Baltimore Oriole

4. Barn Swallow

5. Black Throated Green

6. Blackburnian Warbler

7. Brown-headed Cowbird

8. Cardinal

9. Catbird (Oh...and ya gotta see this...Cat it while surfing)

10. Cormorant

11. Great Blue Heron

12. Green Heron

13. Killdeer

14. Lincoln Sparrow

15. Nashville Warbler

16. Northern Parula

17. Northern Waterthrush

18. Prothonotary Warbler

19. Redbreasted Nuthatch

20. Red-winged Blackbird

21. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

22. Screech Owl

23. Swamp Sparrow

24. Tree Swallow

25. Warbling Vireo

26. White-crowned Sparrow

27. Wood Thrush

28. Yellow-rumped Warbler

29. Yellow Warbler

30. Yellow-throat Warbler

Not bad, for a single day of birding!

There was much more going on that day, than just looking at birds (as if that weren't enough). We were witness to a banding demonstration, which gave us a close-up view of many of the birds on my list. We had a lovely picnic on the beach (Lake Erie) and I bought a couple of souvenirs from the Friends of Magee Marsh. We stopped at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and also visited the Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center, near by, where we were able to view a wide variety of raptors, up close, including an American Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Redtail Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon and a Barn owl. These were on perches, as they were all rescue animals. So sad for them to need humans so, but educational for us and, at least, they were being loved and cared for. Under a tent, next to them, were a variety of Owls including, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl and Screech Owl. There was also a special telescope set up inside the building where we could view a Bald Eagle on her nest!

All in all a magical weekend with great friends, good food, a little music and memories to last a lifetime!

Cool. I'm a birder.

© 2008 Bettina Makley

UPDATE! Click HERE for additional photos!


Anonymous said...

I second all of that. I didn't see as many birds but I saw a lot of them. I especially enjoyed just being out in nature and feeling the peacefulness of the walk. The beach was fun too!

Bill said...

It was a great trip and what a wonderful blog. Thank you Fairy Webmother.

I also did not see as many birds, but the weekend was just incredible. It was wonderful getting out in the woods with Laura (completely accessible to the disabled) and friends. Topping it off with a wonderful and fun dinner meal and a few songs in the evening.

Thanks to everyone for your part in making this a very wonderful and meaningful weekend.

May Terry said...

Wow, Bettina, that was a lot of work, putting that post together!

You reminded me that I have yet to see a catbird this spring. I can't wait!

May, CT friend of UUers

mousewords said...

What a lovely story! I could smell the forest air. :-)

So glad you had such a good time!

Sally said...

What an exciting trip. The birding list and the photos inspired me to get the lead out plus my bird books and start my own list. Thanks for sharing.

mon@rch said...

Stunning list of birds that you had on your birding trip! Thanks for sharing this with us and glad you had a good time!