"I don't really notice birds."
This was a recent confession from a very good friend who I have known for decades. I was baffled, how can you NOT notice birds...especially after knowing me? Haven't I told them a ton of interesting factoids? OK, I may have traumatized them when they told me they thought ducks were cute and I told them about duck anatomy. But I really thought they could handle that information.
How can someone not notice birds?
When I first started this whole bird writing stuff n 2004 I was used to people saying, "You watch birds? Huh, my grandmother does that." It was always said in way that was almost an apology, "oh that thing you love is boring."
And I've taken it as my mission to say, "Screw that, birds are amazing and we're all over here having an amazing time."
Over the years as all sorts of passions have come about, it feels like we share our passions. Though I may not get why my adult friends are obsessed with going Disney World every chance they get, I appreciate that they like it. When I'm watching that friend's third trip to Disney in a year on Facebook I realize, "Oh, I bet they watch my multiple trips to go birding in Texas with the same bewilderment." How many times do I need to see a green jay? Apparently as many times as my friends need their picture taken with Donald Duck.
On a recent evening I was still chewing on the "not noticing birds" conversation as I was participating in an Insect Safari as part of my job. Though the focus was insects, there were several birds around and I was watching them. One was a very obliging indigo bunting. I set my scope on it in case anyone wanted to take a peak as they paused in their insect hunt. One man put his eye up to my scope and was shocked. He insisted his wife and kids take a look too. As they did he said to me, "I gotta tell you, I never got birding, it just seems so boring. But that bird, that I can see why you do this."
Not long after my phone buzzed with a text alert. It was my friend who was driving around and found a turkey in the road. They sent a photo.
"You noticed a bird."
"Yes," the replied.
I'll take my victories where I can.