Over the last several weeks, I have been asked time and again by friends and customers if I have seen the movie “The Big Year.” In spite of my interest in the movie, I had to admit that I had not seen it. I read the book several years ago and enjoyed it immensely as I vicariously lived other people’s birding experiences.
I have never done a Big Year, but I have done big birding days and big birding trips, like when I went to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Keeping a record of the birds I see when I go on a birding trip is part of the fun. Ask my family – when I get in a birding mode, it is as if I become a different person. I want to see every bird species there is to see. I am not content to rest. I want to keep going from before sunrise to after sunset.
This past weekend, I finally got out to Prescott Valley to see the movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could relate to many elements of the story. It helped create within me a desire to get out in nature and do more birding!
For one thing, I have never done any pelagic (open sea) birding, so my life list lacks a lot of birds that can only be added by doing a pelagic trip. And I have never seen a great gray owl or a snowy owl, which played an important part in the film. And I’ve never been to Attu – which would be a dream come true!
Why I have this insatiable desire to see birds is difficult to explain. I attribute the source as a God-given interest and talent. I believe I was born with this innate love of nature – especially birds. And with that love comes the challenge of finding an appropriate balance of spending time in the pursuit of birds.
Pursuing birds takes time and it involves travel, as the birds are not going to come to me, so I have to go to where they are. For example, as much as I would love to see a snowy owl, it just isn’t going to happen in Arizona. The only way I will ever see a snowy or a great gray owl is if I am willing to do something about it, which involves traveling to that part of North America where these species reside. Birding is a never-ending pursuit, as there are always more birds to be seen, and that is part of the thrill.
On a completely different note, I want to promote our efforts here at Jay’s Bird Barn to collect food for the Quad-City Hunger challenge. Our Prescott store is a drop-off point for nonperishable food items for Yavapai Food Bank. With the holidays coming, we don’t want anyone to go hungry. I encourage you to drop off as much food as you can – let’s work together to make it a great success. There is only about one more week left in the challenge, so don’t delay in bringing in your donations.
Also, a quick reminder that there will be an Audubon-led bird walk at the Highlands Center property on Walker Road this Saturday at 9 a.m. The walk is free and open to the public. Dress warmly and be prepared for wet weather.