On Saturday, my spouse and I escaped the city for a few hours to participate in another guided nature walk. This time, we went to view nesting grassland birds.
I imagined the walk would be a scavenger hunt for bird nests tucked away in the grass. We would peer into their homes like peeping Toms to spy on their eggs and chicks. It wasn’t like I thought we were going to fondle the eggs but I did hope we might pass one around to feel its texture and heft before safely returning it to its home, unmolested.
As it turned out, the grasslands were like other nature preserves I’ve visited. Veering off the designated path into protected areas was prohibited. We were simply there to watch birds from a safe (for them) distance.
I never intentionally ‘birdwatched’ before and this time was no different, really. I knew nothing about it except that watching birds was involved. Usually with binoculars. And some knowledge of birds beyond basic anatomy. Unlike everyone else in the group that day, I possessed neither bird knowledge nor binoculars. I didn’t even know birdwatching binoculars were called “field glasses.”
I also hadn’t known that “birding” is what people-in-the-know call birdwatching. I’d never heard the term before. Had I heard someone, prior to this event, say they were going birding, I would have thought they planned to put on wing prosthetics and attempt to fly. Could that really be a thing?
In the end, I didn’t see the birds clearly but I wouldn’t have known what I was looking at if I had. I would essentially have been blind to the details. All I could do was listen to birdsong. Not for identification’s sake, just for the beauty of it. That required only appreciation, not an extensive background in ‘birdology’. So that’s what I did, I listened to the orchestra of birdsong surrounding me. It added to the happiness of being outdoors in fresh air, away from the city.