by Jon Berahya
Some people with a passing interest in birds take up birdwatching as a weekend hobby without realizing it’s only ideal for people who know how to find birds. This article is intended for people who want to birdwatch but don’t yet know how to find birds.
Prepare to find a bird every day. Wear soft shoes and tiptoe. Invest in a picnic basket and have lunch in a park. Whistle a bit. Remember, though–one is prepared to find a bird only when a bird is prepared to be found.
Expect to find birds chirping, eating, flying, hopping, nesting, pecking, perching, singing, swimming, and tweeting. Also, expect to walk along the beach and not notice a bird sunbathing; to skate at a roller rink and not see a bird doing the limbo; to stroll the city sidewalks and not witness a bird participating in a game of pickup basketball; to dine at a restaurant with an open kitchen and not discover a bird grilling steaks, and to dance in a nightclub and not spot a bird DJing.
There are plenty of activities to expect a bird not to be doing. Keep a list of these activities with you at all times and add to the list as you go so you can be sure of what you won’t find a bird doing during your search. If you’re trying to find a bird in Las Vegas and someone offers complimentary ringside tickets to a world championship title fight, say, “no thanks” because there’s a one hundred percent chance that a bird is not a contender. Add “boxing” to the list.
The easiest way to find a bird is to go to the bird aisle at the pet store. If the pet store had a bird clearance sale before you arrived and everyone in town already bought up all the birds, tough luck. Maybe you should’ve called first to confirm bird availability. If the pet store is inside a mall, you might be in luck. Even if everyone in town already bought up all the birds, there’s a chance one of them escaped to the food court during the clearance frenzy.
If you don’t see a bird in the food court, ask a cashier if they’ve seen a bird. If the cashier is too busy conducting transactions, ask a food sample distributor if they’ve seen a bird. Maybe a bird stopped by for a sample and then put on a little fake mustache to sneak in for a second sample. (Be sure to watch out for sluggish birds perched on low-lying food court light fixtures.) If you can’t find a bird with a cashier’s or food sample distributor’s clues, head for the exit. Maybe a bird will hop or fly in through the door when you walk outside. If that doesn’t happen, look up at the sky. There’s an excellent chance there’s a bird there.
Don’t confuse birds with Birds. Andrew Bird is a music artist, not a bird named Andrew that plays guitar. Brad Bird is a writer-director-producer of films, not a bird named Brad with excellent multitasking skills. Larry Bird is a retired professional basketball player, not a bird named Larry that can shoot three-pointers. Finding a Bird doesn’t count, but if you insist, attend an Andrew Bird concert, look behind a typewriter, camera, or Tom Cruise, or eat at a diner in French Lick, Indiana.
It’s tough to say who finds the most birds, but if I had to guess, I’d say top-tier birdwatchers. Let’s not confuse them with weekend birdwatchers, who spend their first designated birdwatching hour searching for their binoculars, small enough to go unnoticed behind a family photograph on the pub table next to the bay window, their preferred vantage point. Weekend birdwatchers think birds are cute little fellas. They believe every bluebird’s scientific name is “bluebird.”
Top-tier birdwatchers own and maintain a variety of spotting scopes, submit seasonal query letters to the National Audubon Society regarding site-specific birdwatching best practices, and know and occasionally dine with wildlife and environmental lobbyists. Top-tier bird watchers are frequent users of the word “dossier.” Ornithologists call them for leads.
Those new to birdwatching should consider investing in birdhouses. Well-constructed houses are homes away from nests. Weekend birdwatchers tend to provide this kind of alternative housing for birds at their own expense since birds don’t have money. Birdhouses are worthwhile investments for weekend birdwatchers. Backyard birdhouses pretty much guarantee them an afternoon of happy birdwatching, especially those featuring sun decks and mini-fridges stocked with worms.
Even though birds don’t use soap, some weekend birdwatchers spend an entire day at an art fair looking for birdbaths to put in their yard. Why shouldn’t they? They already bought birdhouses, and the newly furnished interiors, complete with miniature love seats and coffee tables, are too cramped for full baths. Birdbaths are welcome retreats for birds, especially those equipped with tiny air jets.
I hope you find what you’re looking for in life, even if you’re only looking for a bird. If you’re only looking for a bird, I hope you find a bird soon and move on to more ambitious life goals. If you insist on only looking for a bird, I hope you refer back to this article for guidance and that it will help you find at least one bird in your big backyard, wherever or whatever that may be.