No, I’m not writing about Mother’s Day, but about a lesser known and newer commemorative event that celebrates birds. Yesterday, I participated in the second annual International Migratory Bird Day, held in Superior, Wis.
I haven’t been to a birding event in years, partly on purpose and partly due to other demands in my life. I like to think of myself as a recovering birder. I took up bird watching in seventh grade and was active in the birding community through my twenties – even participating for a year on the Audubon Expedition Institute, where I travelled across the country in a yellow school bus for a year with 24 other people interested in birding and the environment for master’s degree studies.
It was during that experience that I overdosed on birding. I came to realize that people stopped looking at birds once they had identified them. I rebelled against the obsession to name everything with feathers that I saw or heard. I rebelled against using eyesight aids like spotting scopes and binoculars – wanting to view the birds instead as part of their surroundings.
But I still feel an affinity with birds. My upcoming novel is about them, after all, and this event seemed a good excuse to get outside on a rare warm spring day. We met at Wisconsin Point, a long sandbar just outside the city. A small group of us spent three hours birding. We didn’t see very many birds but there were bald eagles, chickadees, scaups, red headed ducks, lots of blue jays passing through, and the requisite ring-billed gulls. I do admit to looking through a spotting scope (and the world did not end!), but I tried to keep it to a minimum to allow others the opportunity. After birding, we went to a local inn to listen to some presentations about migration.
My camera isn’t built for bird pictures, but I do love the lighthouse and the white pines on the point, so I thought I’d share photos of them with you.