Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let Us Now Praise Common Birds

Brits divide birders into two groups: birdwatchers and twitchers. Birdwatchers enjoy watching all kinds of birds. Twitchers are fanatics who are interested only in seeing rare birds, or not-so-rare birds which turn up outside their normal range. Twitchers have reached that stage where normal birds in their normal habitats have lost all appeal and “nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.”

I have always prided myself on being a birdwatcher rather than a twitcher. However, something happened a while back day which made me realize that I need to be careful not to start down the slippery slope to twitcherdom.

I noticed a large bird hiding in a tree and walked over to get a better view. I was really disappointed to find the bird was only a Great-tailed Grackle, a very common species here. Only a Great-tailed Grackle!

As soon as I'd thought this, I realized I was dismissing a magnificent bird simply because it's such a common resident in our area. Then I remembered how excited I was t
he first time I saw one - and I recalled once driving miles to see three Great-tailed Grackles that had strayed into the San Francisco area.
So now I try to remember to give even our common birds the attention and respect that they deserve.

While I'm on the topic of disrespected birds, here's a photo of another much-maligned bird: the European Starling. Yes, I know they are unwelcome visitors in the USA - but they are amazingly adaptable and very beautiful.


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