Sharon’s taking a much needed Blog Vacation, and I have been asked to fill in for her once again. So without further ado, we present the following helpful series for the unwilling birdwatcher.
Birdwatching: hobby for the insane?
Surprisingly, no! Even those who are merely married to a birder can learn to appreciate our fine feathered friends, albeit against your will. In an effort to help the non-birding spouse, I’ll be collecting my thoughts on birds here on the Birdchick Blog. Think of it as a field guide, except it’s a) free and b) useful.
I like birds. My nickname is Non Birding Bill not because I hate birds, but because I don’t go birdwatching (also because my wife knows a lot of Bills, and saying “My Husband” was too complicated, apparently). In fact, everybody likes birds, and knowing a few bird facts can be a nice ice breaker with people who are completely out of the loop, birding wise (i.e., sane).
The first thing you need to know is that in the city, every bird you see is a House Sparrow. Unless it’s a duck, of course. But otherwise, it’s a sparrow. They’re the small brown birds that you see bee bopping around when you’re outside. And I mean everywhere: the reason you need to learn how to ID a sparrow is that any time you see a bird, it’s a sparrow. In fact the likelihood of a bird being a sparrow is directly proportional to your certaintly that it is not a sparrow. Think you’ve got a Chestnut-sided Warbler in your yard? It’s a sparrow. Unusual hummingbird at your feeder? Sparrow. Small farm animals being carried off in the night? Sparrow.
Sparrows are the hydrogen molecule of birds; they’re so common they make a handy point of reference, and every other bird can be expressed in terms of how much like or unlike a sparrow it is. So, if youre going to watch a bird, you need to know the sparrow.
What else do you need to know about sparrows? For starters, they’re complete bastards. Totally, completely evil birds. They don’t bother people because in addition to being evil, they’re smart, and have figured out that the key to surviving is not bothering people. So they bebop around, acting all cute and harmless and “oh look at me, I’m stealing a breadcrumb! I’m so naughty!” And then they fly off, find a bluebird sitting on a nest, and kill her by pecking her to death while she’s on her eggs. Seriously.
House Sparrows were introduced to America (“Hello, nice to meet you.”) by a dude who wanted every bird in Shakespeare to be present in America, which is just another reason to hate Shakespeare in my wife’s book. The odd thing is that while they’re over here commiting more murders than the franchises of CSI and Law and Order put together, House Sparrows are on the decline in Europe.
That, in a nutshell, is everything I know, and therefore, everything your non-birding spouse, needs to know about the evil, evil House Sparrow, who’s preferred seed mix is the blood of the innocent.
And now a few words from etc, etc:
The above feeder is a Seed Saver Domed Feeder, and the picture was taken with a Wingscapes Birdcam. Both items are available at the Birdchick’s OpenSky Store, and 20% of the profits are donated to the ABA’s kids programs.
As an added bonus, if you enter the coupon code Sharon1009, you’ll get an additional 10% off your OpenSky order.