You see them with their binoculars, walking into the woods and trying to catch a glimpse of their favorite birds, if only a momentary glimpse — birdwatchers. For sure, there are some really breathtaking birds to see, and we are not even talking parakeets here. Two of my favorites are the Yellow Warbler and the Northern Cardinal, which I mistakenly call the Red Cardinal and is forever associated with a professional baseball team, the “Cincinnati Reds.” To see a bird dressed head to toe in all yellow or all red is certainly beautiful but even a little bit startling. Like nature itself is just showing off — brazenly.
Bird watching, no doubt, is one of those wonderful hobbies that has the power to give you a little vacation from yourself, as you immerse yourself in the forest and in the “hunt.” It’s hard to think about bills, the taxes you owe the government, the cost of putting your children through college, dealing with a difficult boss, etc., etc., when you are scanning the branches for those little fellas. So it takes your mind off whatever vexations are currently corroding the psyche, which is all to the good.
I haven’t myself indulged in the fine art of bird watching, and I confess I don’t even own a pair of binoculars, but I have fallen into a bird-related activity of my own, which I came upon by pure accident. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it came upon me. You see, I used to live in Westchester County, New York, close to a huge park that was made up of these elaborate trails that went deep into the forest. You could walk for miles in fairly dense forest with wonderful, sparkling streams running through the woods. One day, I found a comfortable boulder by a brook to sit on and take a break and rest from all the walking, and perchance I closed my eyes in a relaxed, meditative frame of mind.
What I heard was this wonderful and quite elaborate bird song, and then silence. And to my delight, there it was again. I listened to it, repeatedly, with my eyes closed for a good 20 minutes or so, and was astonished at how wonderfully musical it was and how very original. And I realized later, this was not a strenuous and somewhat frustrating hunt to catch a brief glimpse of a bird before it flew away — like the, at times, maddening fate of birdwatchers. All you had to do is close your eyes when you are deep in the woods, and the bird songs are there for the taking — they come to you, as it were. So I propose a new hobby with its own vocabulary: “birdlistening” and “birdlistener.” That’s me, I’m a birdlistener, thank you very much.
Then, wouldn’t you know it, I find a Web site that has photographs of all the birds, but even better, for each bird, there’s a recording of its bird song: All About Birds: Your Online Guide to Birds and Bird Watching created by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (see the link below). You don’t even have to venture into the woods to listen to bird songs — they are at your fingertips at the computer — the wonders of our technology! If you really get into this Web site, you may even get to the point of identifying birds by their songs. And to top it all off, I came across yet another YouTube site that has 2 hours of continuous bird songs (see the link below Bird Songs Relaxing). So enjoy. Let your worries melt away — they will keep until tomorrow.
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