I had been upstairs on a sleepy Saturday morning, working on Birding magazine production, when there arose a tremendous clamor below. My kids had just rescued a northern saw-whet owl from the clutches of an outdoor cat.
About Ted FloydTed Floyd is the longtime Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives with the ABA. Ted has written 200+ magazine articles and 5 books, including How to Know the Birds (National Geographic, 2019). He is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and has served on several nonprofit boards. Join Ted at The ABA Blog for his semimonthly spot, “How to Know the Birds,” celebrating common birds and the uncommonly interesting things they do.
What we absolutely need more of, not less of, in this society of ours is kids—kids who will become adults—who learn about gadwalls: how to recognize them; how to understand them; ultimately, how to care about them.
If you haven’t done a lot of birding this year, I don’t blame you. At the same time, if you’ve found solace in birds—even the most ordinary and workaday of birds—I’m right there with you.
After a morning of soaking wet sneakers and fogged lenses and warblersong tinnitus, we finally found them: ravens, an apparent family group, croaking prehistorically and flapping their wings so mightily that I could see eddies of mist in their wake.
Almost forty years ago, I saw and heard my first tufted titmouse, a little gray druid chanting in steady trimeter in a Beeler Street backyard. The experience of being there was wondrous.
It’s funny, anybody who goes hiking or walking or romancing in the foothills will hear that constant yappering, guaranteed, but I wonder how many will ever make conscious note of it. The birds are tiny, they stick to the crowns of the tall pondos, and they buzz about constantly.
The people keep a-comin’. They’re outside. The folks at the feeding station are masked and socially distanced. They’re learning about birds and nature. They’re wondering and sharing together about nature. They’re breathing fresh air...
Those lovely little birds at my local patch, those dainty white geese, brought together folks who likely would not otherwise have been thus assembled. The question on everyone’s mind that sunny Saturday afternoon: What are those birds? What are they named?
I don’t care who you are, or where you’re from, or whatever you believe in, but this I do know: Like me, you are incapable of being indifferent to the spectacle of cranes migrating ahead of an ice storm.
Something caught the corner of my eye, a shimmering amid the wooly clouds. Pelicans of course. I wheeled around for a full view...