Watching birds leads to a treasure-trove of information and experience. It's akin to falling down the rabbit hole as in Alice in Wonderland. You are drawn into a world beyond your understanding. A world of art, history, and science, all interwoven and connected. It may start out simple enough, you observe a bird, perhaps in your yard and a question comes to mind, "what kind of bird is that?" That may lead to interaction with another person to seek some understanding, or perhaps borrow or purchase a book about birds. Next you discover it would help to have binoculars. Then, you may need a better camera with a zoom lens to be able to get a photo. As you begin to build on your knowledge you realize that males and females may look different. There are seasonal changes, some birds are around all year, but some only in summer, some only in winter. Some eat bugs, some eat fruit, some eat fish, some even eat other birds. And you are drawn even further into the vast world of birding. Different birds for different locations. Birds species on the decline, other species on the move and expanding. Seasonal changes of nesting, fledgling, and migration. The more you see and learn, the more questions surface.
Yesterday morning my wife Jeanette, our dog Buster, and I all went for a bird walk at a nearby park, Wallace Marine Park. During our walk along the river through towering cotton-wood trees, Jeanette spotted and I photograph this female American Goldfinch nest building, in a brier patch of all places! It sort of crystallizes for me our birding experience. Consider if you would, that we have seen many nesting birds over the years of our birdwatching, but this was the first time to ever find a nesting Goldfinch. Granted they are common enough, with great numbers easy to observe at back yard feeders, but nesting has always been a vague mystery. But to get to this simple trail side treasure has taken a culmination of experiences, study, and technology. Our hand held smart phones contain applications for bird sounds as well as drawings and photographs to aid identification. My digital camera with an 83 zoom lens allows photos to be taken for closer observation, identification and sharing. All of this converged in yesterday's sighting identification and photo of this female nesting American Goldfinch. This treasure hunt of birding is something Jeanette and I have found to be an all encompassing experience, even life-changing, and we are very grateful.