Over the past few years, the birds have been leading me to a new lexicon of personal slogans. One of my favorites is, “They Like It Where They Like It.”
This phrase captures a lot I’ve been contemplating about birding. What it means, more or less, is this:
No matter where I hope a bird might be found, and even if I am absolutely convinced I’ve glimpsed a particular species, there’s a pretty good chance I’m wrong. This is because, as any birding guidebook will tell you, birds are creatures of habit. Or more accurately, they are creatures of habitat — as in, “They like it where they like it.”
Every now and then a lucky birder discovers a “vagrant,” official lingo for a bird that’s somehow veered off course and outside its preferred territory. One made national news this fall — the Mandarin Duck that turned up in New York’s Central Park.
But for the most part, birds are unfailingly consistent.
Even so, when I’m deep in the woods — oblivious to time or temperature or when I last ate a meal – magical thinking can be the result. It’s like I’m convinced that a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, (or whatever bird I’m determined to find), will magically appear if I just keep hoping hard enough. Or maybe I just dreamed I saw one — 19 weeks of nonstop birding is enough to cause hallucinations.