This, I think, is what many people must think to themselves as they pass by me throughout the day. On any average day, I usually stop about 5-10 times to search for or examine birds. This might not seem like an entirely large number, but you must keep in mind that these stops are almost always in between classes on a campus with over 20,000 students. It always seems that the most interesting birds pick the most populated places to stop and do something intriguing. I am certain I have received more than one odd look as I stare up at a tree, circling beneath and more often than not sneezing because the sun is in my eyes. I have come to the realization, however, that I really do not care. Unlike most of my college-aged peers, I've lost the ability to care if people are judging me for doing what I love. If anyone ever asks me what I'm doing, I simply look at it as an opportunity to get someone else interested in birding. I have gone past the quirky level and succeeded in becoming that obsessive bird girl, and I don't care who knows it. I've tried getting a group of Wildlife Society members together to go see The Big Year tomorrow, but unfortunately no one seems to really care. I'll keep working though, don't you worry your pretty little face.
In other news, today in my Principles of Fisheries and Wildlife class we talked about human dimensions in wildlife management and birding was used as an example several times. The professor brought up a point that has stuck with me all day. What is it that makes a birding experience good? What motivates people to get involved in an expensive, time-consuming hobby such as birding? Is it seeing many species in one day? Is it seeing your favorite bird, even though you've seen it countless times before? Is it the solitude of your favorite birding patch? Is it socializing with other birders in your area or learning from well-respected birders in your community? I think it's a culmination of these things, and this lecture made me want to take a moment to just appreciate all the wonderful aspects of the birding lifestyle. I think one of my favorite things about birding is that you can do it all the time. I'm birding all day as I walk from class to class. I see warblers among the willows and mallards in the Duck Pond, and Red-Tailed Hawks getting mobbed by crows as I walk across the Drillfield, and it always seems to give me an instant boost to get me through a busy day. I detest being late for class, but on several occasions I have lost track of time while simply watching a Carolina Wren hop among some branches. I can constantly be quizzing myself on bird calls when I hear them, and more times than I can count I have texted myself some syllables hoping to try to look up an unknown bird call later online. Birding has become what occupies my mind in moments of dullness (i.e. when I should be paying attention in Evolutionary Bio) and what motivates me to do more, be more, and see more.
I just wanted to share with you all my joy and love for the world of birding, and make it known that I am happy to be a part of it. Good birding my friends, and may you make the most of the time that is offered to you.