Pt 1: I grew up knowing my mother was/is a birder. How could I not when she’d slow down and try to identify bird X and I being the self-absorbed adolescent would roll my eyes and sink farther into whatever novel I was reading. As a family we went to Hawaii. Again I was a teenager far more interested in boys than birds. So when my mother got really excited about seeing a Blue footed boobie, I didn’t even look up. I regret that a great deal now that I too have evolved into a birder. Alas, I still don’t have a Blue footed boobie on my life list.
I have always loved flowers and trees and learned over time to identify some of them. On a vacation in Florida I became completely obsessed with palm trees, purchasing a book to help me identify them and driving my friend crazy. (I think I’m pretty good at obsessing over something and driving those around me barmy.) Thank heavens I kept a nature journal on that trip, or I’d still not have an Anhinga on my life list. As I moved into the adult phase of my life nature became more and more important. Hiking, camping, whale watching, all became part of it. Yet I lack the athleticism to be much more than a casual walker/hiker.
In the 1990s I decided that one of the best ways to spend time with one of my amazing sisters (I am second oldest of the nine children in my family, two are boys) was to start birding with her. I have a theory that birding is much like a virus. You can catch it from others and the more exposure you have to birds & birders the lower the resistance you have. Next thing you know you are birding your life. Melinda took me birding. Then I went birding and called her when I was stuck. Then there was more birding and my world if now full of feathered friends. I am very grateful to Melinda for infecting me with the birding virus as it has enhanced my life so much.
Anhinga By Yinan Chen (www.goodfreephotos.com (gallery, image)) [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Melinda on the left in the Pink Scarf, Jenny on the right with the white scarf and Arlene holding the camera. In Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod March 6, 2010.