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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bird-o-philia: Why We Bird

Why do we bird?
In asking ourselves “why we bird” we can come up with many of the usual reasons — the thrill of finding rare species, the reward of attracting birds and being surrounded by their beauty and song, the fascination of witnessing their behavior, etc.

But “why we bird” goes far deeper for us. It is more primal, a deep need; our magnetic attraction to birds seems as as important to us as the air we breathe. We crave a connection to birds and feel more whole and alive when we are near them.

We think this need is a lot like what the famous sociobiologist, E.O. Wilson describes in his book, Biophilia, as “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” Biophilia means “love of life or living systems”, positive feelings that people have toward certain objects in their natural surroundings. We feel that biophilia is what makes us seek out birds. So we'll coin the term, "Bird-o-philia".

Each of us came to that feeling separately in our own lives and that desire in each of us is what brought us together in marriage. Don was introduced to birds as a child and, as an adult, came to write a book about bird behavior. Lillian had become riveted on birds as a young adult, fascinated by their behavior and also an avid hawkwatcher. Little did she know when she signed up for a course on bird behavior at the Massachusetts Audubon Society that the instructor would turn out to be Don Stokes. As they say, the rest is history.

Our separate passion for birds led us to one another and to a life in which our passion has become our vocation. From that beginning, we have made it our life’s work to interest others in birds so that they, too, may develop this passion.

Photo by John Hession

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