I listen and watch for birds both when I’m at home and wherever I go. I’ve enjoyed listening to and seeing birds since I was young. I remember the sound of the birds returning every evening to the tall trees at the back of our yard. They would chatter and chirp for a quite a while until the sun set. Then there would be silence. I can still hear that in my memory, even though it was a very long time ago.
Two days ago I opened up the blinds in the morning and saw a humming bird perched on the trellis next to the sweet peas, inches from me. This morning, some kind of warbler, I think, was sitting in my Palo Verde tree. For about two weeks or more, just before Spring officially started, I watched varying numbers of geese flying over, in the classic v shape, every evening at about the same time.
I can’t always identify the birds, but what I can acknowledge is the mood lift I feel when I see them. Each graceful, beautifully-colored bird gives me a feeling of gratefulness and joy.
For five years I was a docent at California Living Museum in Bakersfield. I got an up-close association with, and education about, some of the many magnificent birds that are native to California. And, as a bonus, I got to share this information and the birds with others!
Just in my own neighborhood, or the skies above, I have seen humming birds, warblers, doves, killdeer, kestrels, turkey vultures, red-tail hawks, great horned owls, northern flickers, house sparrows, blackbirds, crows, ravens, finches, sparrows, phoebes and more. Once, when my husband and I took a nighttime walk around our neighborhood, we looked up and saw the beautiful view of the white undersides of a pair of barn owls out hunting.
One year our neighborhood had an influx of robins sitting in the trees. At other times, cedar waxwings stayed in our area for a few days. I always marvel at the beauty of the egrets when I see them fly over. And, before there was more building in our area, I would smile at the sound of the meadowlark singing.
But I don’t just watch for birds at home. Everywhere I go, I watch for birds. In the forest areas I have seen screech owls, and pileated woodpeckers, and blue jays. The ravens flying through tall tree clusters, avoiding collisions with tree trunks, reminded me of the Star Wars characters on their speed riders.
One of my favorite places to watch for birds is at the ocean’s edge. The beautiful California Brown Pelicans with their line formation flying and their daredevil dives have inspired me to use my imagination to write The Pelican Family Series. I hope these books will inspire children and adults alike to observe and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the birds around them, and to share their observations with others. When people tell me about their trips to the ocean and the pelicans they saw, it makes me smile. I feel, then, that I have passed on a tiny bit of the appreciation I feel for birds.
Look in your neighborhood. What kind of birds do you see?