My interest in bird watching is now becoming a hobby. I even have binoculars (old ones that my husband uses for football games, but still…they work!) and I’m keeping a list of all of the birds I can identify around my neighborhood. There’s even a great horned owl who hoots for a girlfriend in the redwood trees in our backyard.

My children double over with laughter over this, assuming that anyone who is a bird watcher is about ready for Shady Acres Retirement Home.

Oh…so wrong!

The thing is…we’re so accustomed to birds around us that we don’t really see them. Or hear them. But once you start paying attention–really noticing them, identifying their species, recognizing their songs…bird watching takes on a new dimension.

Birds tend to be bellwhethers of the health of an ecosystem, too. Yesterday’s paper had a worry about the decline in one migratory bird’s population…and that really is a worry. Something is causing a change…something that could lead up the food chain to humans.

There is a glorious tree out in front of my house–a Chinese pistache–in all of its autumnal splendor, filled with berries right now. The other morning I just stopped what I was doing and sat down with my binoculars to watch the tree. I counted more than ten types of birds! (The tree was filled with dozens and dozens of birds.) From Acorn woodpeckers, American goldfinches, crowned sparrows, red finches, even a western Bluebird. Plenty of berries for all of them to eat in peace…until the bossy stellar jays show up and everyone scatters like buckshot.

Then, as I listened, I actually heard the music birds make–nature’s symphony! So many sounds, so many notes. Sounds I hear everyday but rarely stop and listen to.

Today, notice a bird in your yard and watch it for a few minutes. Bet you’ll get hooked.

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