Friday, June 4, 2010

What's it about birding?

The other day I was clambering about in a kind of no-man's land, a neglected, overgrown lot between an auto repair shop, a self-storage business and the interstate, picking my way around poison ivy, treading carefully over unstable mounts of sand and pushing past small pines and brambles, all in pursuit of an elusive Prairie Warbler. I could hear him sing but as much as I searched I could not catch sight of him. However between the noise of trucks rumbling by on the interstate I did get a recording.

I finally went home. Another lost morning. I should have felt frustrated but I really didn't. So what is it about birdwatching that keeps us going? I believe it's more than the thrill of the hunt. I believe it's because watching birds allows us to enter into an untamed, unregulated, natural world which still exists within our urbanized lives. It nourishes our primeval yearning for our place in nature. Fortunately birds have little if any economic value and this probably saved them from becoming manageable assets in our corporate culture. They are still free. There is a term for this yearning: biophilia, a love for life, which makes us find time to lose ourselves in nature. E.O. Wilson wrote a very readable book entitled "Biophilia" exploring this concept.

Anyway, I brought home some pictures from my recent walks.

Yellow Warbler

A Veery - I have been wanting to see this bird for many years, having listened to its haunting evening songs in the woods behind our house. However whenever I have looked for it it has stopped singing. Finally I was lucky, utterly unexpected, in a shrub in plain daylight.

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing from the top of a tree

Male Common Yellowthroat

Male American Redstart

Male Indigo Bunting
On one of my walks I came upon a small pond and was startled to hear this foghorn sound coming from the weeds and thicket on the opposite shore:

My dog was transfixed as was I. I half expected to see a huge ungulate pushing through the undergrowth, but it was just a couple of bullfrogs calling back and forth. Well, by that sound they got their name.

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment.


  1. Stunning shots! Love the in-flight pictures - they are amazing!

  2. You are fortunate to have such a colourful selection of avian inhabitants to seek out with the camera. FAB.

  3. Cheers to biophiliacs! I especially like the energy- aliveness -in the yellow warbler shot. Great job, Hilke.

  4. Wonderful post- couldn't agree more! It's the "thrill of the hunt" that really motivates me to go back time and time again to my birding spots. In hopes of finding something really cool :) Great shots- I've only seen an Indigo Bunting once, but it was one of my most exciting sightings.

    Great blog- I'm glad I found it!

  5. @ Susan, Frank, Andy, LV and Birding Girl: Thanks for stopping by! You make me feel I am on the right track.

  6. Very interesting comments (and excellent images).

    One of the things I love about birding is that I can have seen a species for years, even decades, and still easily find out something new and fascinating about

  7. These days, I like bird songs even more than pictures! Nice post! Red eyed Vireo behind the bullfrogs makes it even better!


  8. Are you using a special microphone?


  9. Thanks, Harold.
    Thanks, Laurent. I am using the Olympus LS10 recorder with built in microphone. It does a great job! I clean up the recording with Audacity. The beta version is excellent in noise removal.

  10. HA! I am a biophiliac! I'm going to look for that book. It sounds very interesting.


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