I think I’ve Become a Birder

Even though I’ve been working for the Environment for the Americas for nearly four months now, up until recently I would not have considered myself a “birder”. I’ve always liked birds, and I’ve always appreciated their songs, bright plumages, and in some cases, their flight patterns. I remember being a kid and sitting on the porch swing with my dad watching hummingbirds hover in and out of eyesight, guzzling from the feeder that hung from the roof of our house. To this day I still nurse a soft spot for any Rufous Hummingbird traveling through the area. However other than hummingbirds I didn’t spend too much time or energy on birds; how they differed, what they offered, or even where I could find them.
Since working for Environment for the Americas I have suddenly gained an incredible appreciation for the flighty and feathered, and I have just recently realized how much I have learned over these past 4 months. I did not have any idea what an American Avocet was, and now I can identify one simply by hearing it’s call in the distance. I had no clue that Great Horned Owls had an appetite for Snowy Plovers, but now I can give you directions to at least 4 nests on Blanca Wetlands where you would fine at least one owl, and possibly a few owlets. And I had never even heard of a Swainson’s Hawk, but I am proud to say that I could now identify one flying off in the distance. The training I have received in these disciplines has not only been extensive and beneficial, it has been fascinating!
Up until last week I would have merely considered myself a dedicated employee – it’s important for an intern conducting surveys to know what types of shorebirds, raptors, and other predators are present on the ponds in Blanca Wetlands. However last week when we were driving back from the BLM office Anjelica and I spotted a large bird perched on a utility pole near the side of the highway. Without hesitation I pulled to the shoulder, put the car in park, grabbed my binoculars, and clamored over the passenger seat to safely stand off the road and get a good look at this unusual bird. Anjelica grabbed her bird book and we literally shouted in elation when we realized we were staring at the first Osprey we had seen in the valley and he was eating a large trout.
After two solid minutes had passed and Anjelica and I were still glued to our binoculars, not wanting to tear our eyes away from this rare find, I realized I was off the clock. No one else cared if I saw an Osprey today, no one was going to quiz me on it’s wing shape or flight pattern, and nobody would ask me for more information regarding it’s exact location. And yet, I realized I could gladly hang out there for 15 more minutes and just enjoy the sight of this newest addition to my Life List. It was official – I have become a 100% bird nerd, and I couldn’t be happier.

tpuentes3
puent303@regis.edu
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