Monday, August 07, 2006

What one bird got me interested in birding?

Wildbird is running a contest for people to write in a story about the one bird that got them interested in birding. Here's mine.

Growing up, my dad would take the family to the Great Swamp NWR to look for birds – hawks mostly. We would always find Red-tailed Hawks perched in the distant trees and various other birds. I even remember seeing a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a Red-headed Woodpecker. Around age 11, I discovered video games and the outdoors became a view through a window. My TV and Nintendo replaced my trips to the Great Swamp. I forgot about the birds.

Many years later while at college, I had an encounter that changed my life. It was fall and I was walking back to my dorm from class. I was walking through a small wooded area, more or less alone, when something dropped from the sky less than ten feet away. I was startled, but pleasantly surprised to see a large hawk standing in the dead leaves. Our eyes met and I could see its raw power. Its wings were spread a little and it looked around nervously. Its fiery red tail gave away its name. I stood there for a few minutes watching this stunning Red-tailed Hawk. I had never been so close to one. People walked by, oblivious to what I was looking at. The bird stayed for several minutes then took off into the trees. This encounter stuck with me for year. After college, I picked up an old pair of binoculars and went back to the Great Swamp for my first birding trip in years. Five-hundred species later, birding is my passion.


Beth said...

Those Red-tailed Hawks can really get to ya. I'll never forget the one that ate the squirrel while perched right next to my living room window. I was outside, right next to it. It was scary and intriguing.

Amy said...

Pleased to have prompted a blog post, Patrick. I don't, however, appear to have received an e-mail or snail-mail for The Lister's Forum ;^)

Patrick Belardo said...

I sent it yesterday! I swear! :) I hope you got it.

alicemagooey said...

Hello,Patrick..gosh, maybe we are in the same generation..but i think i may be a tad older...still references to the doings of the 60s generation and the birds we might have seen while 'high' are strangely apropos to my time.
anyway, bird songs:."Blackbird singin in the dead of night"..take these broken wings and learn to fly..
Beatles, right?
and how about
one i have been trying to positively identify for the longest time.: maybe you can was a song about an Eagle..i wish i could remember it. I thought it was called " Eagle song" but i cannot find it...btw, i am from feathered friends forum. and appreciate your blog. and pics at forum...alice