I knew going into 2011 that it was going to be a big year for me as far as birding was concerned, and I was right. The entire year has been a turning point in my birding career, and I feel like I have started to come into my own. Do I have lots more to learn? Sure, but that's a big part of the fun. Lots of details finally started to click for me this year, and I'm happy to say that I'm beginning to see a bigger picture. I don't see "just a bird" anymore, but also how the bird is connected to the habitat it uses, and how we are affecting those habitats (for better and for worse). I'm also paying more attention to bird behavior, and find myself continually asking "what does that mean? why are you doing that?" My own birding "philosophy" continues to evolve, which I will share at some point (I already have to a certain extent, when I wrote about the Emotional Life List), and I watch with curious interest some of the discussions other birders have about things like "what differentiates a birder from a bird watcher?"
|A male Magnolia Warbler, captured and released at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, May 2011|
|Breeding pair of Orchard Orioles, a first-year male on the left and a female on the right.|
Participating in the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas this summer was also a fantastic experience that contributed to my growing avian knowledge base. This was an activity that I took part in largely on my own (as opposed to a festival or group birding outing), and it was empowering to be able to recognize and identify some new birds without assistance, as well as to find evidence of breeding either in the form of a nest, adults carrying food, or in some rare cases, fledglings that were not too many days out of the nest. I still remember the joy in my heart at finding several teeny Red-eyed Vireo fledges along the side of our road, and the great excitement at tracking down a begging Blue-winged Warbler on our neighbors' property and a whole party of begging Ovenbird babies just feet from my own front door! (A challenge for upcoming breeding seasons is to find an actual Ovenbird nest on our property, which is a tall order, as their nests are notoriously well-camouflage and difficult to find!)
|A Great Egret flies over Meadowbrook Marsh near Lakeside, OH|
|The male of our nesting Eastern Phoebe pair after being banded.|
|Surprised? Scared? Happy? Who knows what's going through this little Saw-whet Owl's mind here, but it was love at first sight for me!|
|Yours truly giving a birding program at the Athens Public Library in January 2011.|
Here's wishing you all a very birdy 2012!