“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” ~ Roger Tory Peterson
When spring arrives, anywhere along the coast is where we’ll be, and you can bet we’ll be looking up. The spring birder crick-neck disease is a very real thing, I assure you. Add a 5-lb lens to your face, you might be in need of a chiropractor.
It feels like yesterday we enjoyed bird ‘fallout’ from a storm — bad for them, good for us. From the comfort of our own backyard, we counted warblers and orioles and tanagers in our trees, species we had never seen before on our property. It was as if we’d arrived at a birding hotspot … only we were at home.
That was nearly two months ago. (Incidentally, I only just now updated the annual list today, a little behind schedule.)
Precious days off during this very busy time in our lives are spent day-tripping, counting and shooting birds (with a camera) as a team (with my husband or fellow bird-buds). It’s pressing; there are only a handful of weeks in which to see all the colors of the rainbow each migration. Many species are merely passing through our area, not to be seen again until next spring. For many of them, populations are collapsing. We treat each sighting like it may be the last.
Birding is hardly relaxing. First, it’s a long drive to our favorite haunts along the coastal prairies. We walk miles, wind and sun (sometimes sand) in our faces, brains churning information, eyes trained on the distance to detect any movement in the periphery. Field lenses UP, the game begins every 5 minutes or so .. all day. Then, a long drive home.
It’s exhausting. It’s challenging, even sometimes disappointing. Most times, it’s positively exhilarating.
For every life bird we see, there are many we miss. It’s been years since we’ve seen a Red Knot. Many warbler and shorebird species are most imperiled due to their long, difficult migration travels every year. They are hard-wired over hundreds of thousands of generations to make these journeys, and we are changing things faster than they are able to adapt. As their numbers diminish, it is harder for us to find them where they are.
In Houston, it’s the White-tailed Hawk losing the battle. He is becoming locally extinct due to Houston’s suburban sprawl, resulting in housing and business development and necessary loss of habitat in what has traditionally been his species’ hunting and nesting range. They used to be everywhere here, now they are practically nowhere. We breathe a little sigh of relief whenever we spot one (and we did again this year).
As native prairies are losing out to people and their domesticated animals, so go the species that used to inhabit these wild spaces. Doom and gloom aside, birding and photography still remains one of my favorite extracurricular things to do.
Tripped over him on the ground sleeping
Morning Coffee Buddy
Nesting a little low
Close encounter! (no zoom)
Black-throated Green Warbler
Only Passing Through
Queen Of The Prairie
Related Posts and Links:
- 2019 Bird Sightings | DirtNKids … 223 Species as of May 3!
- High Island – Smith Oaks Sanctuary | eBird Checklist … a ‘big day.’
- The Last Migrant Fling, Autism A Boon To Birding | DirtNKids, May 2015
- Assessed (Taxes) and Obsessed (Birds) | DirtNKids, May 2016
- Spring Migration: When Birds Give You Butts | DirtNKids, April 2017