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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nuts About Birds

Today I was looking at a mail order catalog of bedding, and I showed Don a photo of a bedspread and matching pillows that have "19th century drawings of birds." The catalog billed them as sparrows, but they were really orioles and warblers. Don said he liked it and we considered if we wanted to purchase it.
Said Don, "We're nuts for birds, aren't we?... I'm glad we're both nuts that way."
I said, "me too."

Yes, we're nuts for birds 24/7. They're our work and our passion.

The other morning we were sitting looking out at the feeders, drinking coffee and writing our daily bird list in our journal. I wanted to get up for a coffee refill. There were a lot of grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeders. Don said "don't move now, you might scare the blackbirds and there might be a Rusty Blackbird in with them." Coffee refills are scheduled around the possibility of a Rusty Blackbird.

When we drive in the car, we look at every bird. I say, "I'll look, you drive." I have even tried to use the binos, going 55 mph, to ID a bird. (it's hard to do.)

Binoculars hang on our bedposts and every morning we start birding through the window as soon as we we wake up. Yesterday we saw a Bald Eagle sitting in the tree on the pond.

Right now there are more mealworms than human food in our refrigerator.

Our lives together for over 30 years have revolved around birds: writing about them, teaching about them, talking about them, attracting them, photographing them, planning trips to see them, reporting them, participating in conservation efforts for them, managing our 48 acre property to make a better habitat for them, blogging about them, twittering about them, dreaming about them, etc. etc. Birds brought us together. Earlier in our lives, we were both interested in birds, Lillian had studied raptors, Don had written about bird behavior. We met when Lillian took a course on bird behavior offered by Mass. Audubon Society taught by Don. Since then we've written 32 book on birds and nature (about to be 33 when our national field guide, Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America, comes out this fall), had our own PBS TV series on birds, have a licensed line of bird feeding products, etc., etc. We're still nuts about birds.

But we're not alone in being nuts about birds. Many of you are also. Care to share any stories?
You can leave a comment by clicking on the comment link at the end of this post or email us click here.


Kevin said...

I became fascinated with birds at a very young age... I put out feeders, had the Golden Guide, could ID everything in the yard, etc. In college I was quite busy, and birding was apparently not "cool" enough for me at that point in my life, so I put aside the hobby for awhile. I really got back into it after grad school, aided by your Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region, and I've been nuts ever since. I've gotten my wife and parents into birding too, but they're not quite on the same level of obsession. Can't wait for your new guide! On another note, I really like the arrangement you have with your two chairs next to your spacious windows. My wife and I would like to do something very similar, but that will require some remodeling...

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

So glad our eastern field guide helped you get into birds. Thanks for sharing your 'nuts for birds' story.

Kat said...

Watching the backyard birds is what I do for pleasure and to feed me spiritually. I am glad you two found each other! What a lovely story.

Molly Merula said...

I've got your Eastern Field Guide too, and it helps me out a lot. About six or eight months ago I decided I wanted to learn about all the warblers in my area. In just a few weeks, after looking through your book every day and memorising the warbler section, I was able to recognise all of the ~40 warblers in my area.

I'll hopefully be able to put that talent to use soon, as the Biggest Week in American Birding (in Toledo) is coming up in May and I hope to go! : D

And it's so nice to see some other people who actually appreciate the blackbirds and such. I love all my birdies, but there are too many people who feel compelled for some reason to chase away the sparrows/blackbirds/adorable starlings. D:

Petals Wings and Things said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. My husband and I are just beginning our second year of birding and we just can't get enough of it. We follow your blog religiously; we find it informative and entertaining all at the same time. Your work is an inspiration to us and we thought you might want to know that :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a Facebook junkie and just became a Facebook "fan" of your new site. I like FB bc I don't have to go anywhere to get my favorite info - just FB. are you planning on posting some of these blog posts there? I would love it!

Jenny said...

We've been birding for five or six years. We, like you, watch the birds at 55 mph, take the binoculars on bike rides, and there is always a pair pointed at the bird feeders. We've just moved out to the middle of nowhere and have had an amazing assortment of new birds from where we were before. I love your pictures and the information you share about each bird. Thank You!

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Thanks for sharing your stories. We knew we were not the only bird nuts.

Unknown said...

My birding buddie and I drive the back roads all the time and we need lights on top of the car, because we bird all the way and get the craziest looks from the ranchers here in east texas.

Eric said...

I know it's late for a reply, but I still wanted to say I really liked this post. I get the impression you're not only nuts about birds, but you're still nuts about each other!

Thanks for sharing!