House Sparrows hop along the sidewalks of downtown Washington, even on a 20-degree day. There are starlings galore and the occasional mockingbird. But my warblers, buntings and finches flew south months ago.
I find myself craving a forest silence shattered by birdsong and the endorphin rush of spotting a male in full breeding colors. It’s a glorious state of oblivion I can’t seem to get any other way.
How did this “birding thing” become so addictive?
My gardening friends tell me it’s much the same for them, only with dirt, blooms and weeds. To get through the Massachusetts offseason, my sister-in-law studies seed catalogs and salivates.
Birding magazines are a bit like seed catalogs, but they just weren’t doing the trick. Then, on Facebook, I discovered an extremely entertaining way to help fill the void.
It’s a Facebook Group called “What’s This Bird?” where folks post photos of birds they can’t identify. Other birders tell you what it is. (This is a Public Group from the American Birding Association. Sign in to Facebook, and then click here to check it out.)
For starters, you’ll notice that most of the photos are same-day, and all of them say exactly where and when the bird was found. This gives me a sense of “being there” — Armchair Birding in a revved up way.
This Group is also like a quiz to test your own identification skills. Some of these folks are crackerjack birders who take the time to point out subtle details that can be surprisingly enlightening.