I honestly believe that the enjoyment we all receive from watching wildlife is greatly enhanced by simply sharing our sightings with others. This concept was recently reinforced when I gave a talk about hummingbirds to the Southern Wings Birding Club in Lawrenceville.
After I made my presentation, the club’s president asked all present to share some of the fascinating sightings they had made since their last meeting. He made sure everyone had a chance to contribute by asking each member, in turn, to contribute to the conversation.
A few people talked about the birds they had seen on recent trips to far off locations in quest of adding birds to their life lists. As these folks described seeing such unusual species as red-necked phalaropes, I am sure I was not alone in hoping that one day I too would be able to make a similar trek.
While such reports were thoroughly fascinating, what impressed me most was the fact that everyone was eager to tell stories about the birds they see on a daily basis in or nearby their own backyards.
The reports ranged from a woman seeing an American bittern perched on a utility line near a small marsh flooded by recent rains, to a man that told how raccoons had become so fond of the nectar in his hummingbird feeders; he had to take the feeders inside every night. One member described how brown thrashers rummaged through the top of a tree he cut down in his backyard as he worked nearby. Several people spoke about the fascinating behavior of the Carolina wrens that inhabit their yards. A remarkably large number of hawks were the subjects of many reports. I found it interesting to hear one-woman talk about feeding blue jays and how they come looking for her when they want to be fed. Still others discussed seeing everything from blue-gray gnatcatchers to indigo buntings in their yards.
As people shared their experiences, the room was full of laughter and fellowship. It was obvious to me all of the members genuinely felt they were contributing to the discussion. Even after the meeting had closed, people were still talking with one another about birds and other wildlife.
It was also great to see more experienced birders interacting with beginners. Everyone was learning from one another. As such, they are gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world. There is no doubt in my mind the quality of the life these people enjoy is enriched by the wildlife they see on a daily basis.
If there is a bird or nature club in your neck of the woods, attend one of its meetings. If a club is not located nearby, consider starting one. Either way, if you do, you will be better for it.