Over the years, a few of my friends have gotten into birding. It’s to be expected. Just one of the casualties of turning 40. This didn’t stop me from making fun of my friends, because birding, or being a birder, is an easy thing to make fun of. It conjures images of retired Biology professors in khaki shorts and vests with too many pockets. I picture people shouting things like, “Oh- a Brown Woodensnapple!” Or “Golly whiz- a a Flat Billed Maple Lark!”
Those are not the names of real birds, they just sound like something that birders would be excited about. Also I picture birders saying things like Golly Whiz or Whaddyaknow or Schnikeys.
Yet, the reasons my birding friends give for the worthiness of this activity are always outstanding. “I like to be aware of the world around me,” was one of them. “You aren’t curious about these things flying around you,” was another.
Wow. That’s deep.
Besides, who am I to judge anyone. I spend my time writing blogs and watching millionaires in their 20s hit a ball around a park.
This semester, birding has once again found its way into my world. One of my students is a birder, and he is writing a play about the top 29 State Birds of the United States of America. There’s a line in his play that got into my head. He says, “A big part of birding isn’t seeing, it’s hearing.”
This is what I love about theatre. It just has a way of shaping an idea in a way that my brain can hear it fresh for the first time. So this weekend, as I was walking around town, enjoying the beautiful weather, I started hearing the birds. It was overwhelming at first. I was like, “What the hell are these creatures shouting about?"
I don’t know what they are saying. I’ve been too busy making fun of the people who know. But now I kind of want to know what they are.
But if I buy a vest and a Field Guide, feel free to slap me in my face.