In the beginning there was a bird…

I reflect sometimes on how I came to be interested in birding. Looking back on my life, I have always had a love for birds….a pet canary given to me by my Father and a barrage of parakeets who amazed me with their intelligence. And then as an adult I had a Yellow Nape Amazon parrot named Kazoo for about 15 years. But just how did my interest in birdwatching begin?

Great Blue Heron – Galveston Island December 2014

About four years ago, I was in Harlingen visiting my friend Linda who had escaped Michigan’s cold weather to winter in that area. The house she and her husband had leased was located on the Colorado River where it dumps into the Laguna Madre. We were sitting on the back porch enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the view across the river. Birds flitted here and there, occasional patrols of Brown Pelicans skimmed over the river’s surface, when we spotted something sitting in a large tree across the river. It was very still, appeared to be approximately 5 feet tall, had very long flowing feathers and we tried to determine if we were seeing a part of the tree or if this might be some kind of giant bird. After much observation through binoculars, we determined that it was a giant bird and we named him Big Bird. At that time we didn’t know what his true name was and thus began our journey into the birdwatching world. We finally realized that what we saw was a Great Blue Heron in full breeding plumage. He was a magnificent specimen and in future years we always were checking to make sure that “Big Bird” was still roosting across the river. We also noticed large birds sitting in the trees lining the riverbank during the day. All we could see were semi-large birds that were black with white bellies. We named these “penguin birds” since that was all we could see of them at that time. Quickly we learned that our penguin birds were black-crowned night herons.

Our learning curve rose rapidly….With books, phone apps and both of us glued to our binoculars, we quickly grew in our identifying skills. A new hobby had been embraced and a new adventure begun with both of us experiencing tremendous joy in sharing our new-found love of bird watching.

Happy bird searching!!!