Sunday, July 10, 2011

One for the Birds

Today, we did a new activity from our list of "100 Things", something that I'd like to make a new hobby: we went birding.

Despite the fact that this takes place in Central Park, Yvonne had to be convinced to come along. The friends that we mentioned this to also seemed less than thrilled on our behalf -- but how can anyone not be excited about an up-close appreciation of nature's bounty, through the endless diversity of birds? They're
right there all the time, and yet largely invisible to us; to spot a white-breasted nuthatch (a bird, I've learned, that we get here only when it's just passing through) feels like a gift to be savored, something over which we have very little control and can't say when we'll experience again. To really see the birds is like getting let in on a secret.

That no one gets this reminds me -- in a superficial way -- of an anecdote that Jonathan Franzen, the truly seasoned birder, described in the New Yorker, with his friend David Foster Wallace: "I couldn't keep my eyes off the hummingbirds around his house and was saddened that he could...and I understood the difference between his unimaginable misery and my manageable discontents to be that I could escape myself in the joy of birds and he could not."

Yvonne didn't bring her camera because she didn't think she had the proper lens for any nature photography -- little did she realize this nuthatch would come up close enough to be caught on the Flip cam.

Also, this awesomeness happened (those other voices you hear belong to the other folks who joined
Birding Bob):


Peter said...

I go fishing at Sandy Hook Point often and they have an observation deck for the bird watchers. They get there just as early as the fishermen. The watchers have fancy equipment with lenses that appear to be over a foot long on tripods. I donj't want to give Yvonne any ideas because It seems like an expesive hobby:)

Susan said...

I'm so glad you went bird-watching! I love seeing birds in the wild -- even if I don't know what they are.

And your Frantzen quote was poignant and so a propos!