Bird Nerds

On Saturday, Paul packed a small picnic, climbing paraphernalia, and his family into our exceedingly ugly space shuttle, I mean, mini-van.

Off we went.

Cutting across to Smith Rock Way, he slammed on the brakes. Ramming it into reverse, he revved into the gravel shoulder and flipped the engine off.

None of us exclaimed. Instead, we all craned our necks to view whatever it was he spotted in the branches. He rolled down the window, motioned with his hand, and I handed him the binoculars.

The buteo or accipiter (non-birders would call it a hawk-like thingy) remained unidentified because it was between us and the sun. (BTW– I need to come up with a word for non-birders, a word like “muggles.”)

We wheeled around the bank building to look at it from the other side.

The door slowly opened. We all tiptoed out. We stood in accession, passing the two pairs of binoculars between us, murmuring about wing bars, beak color, notched or rounded tail, eye stripes, and size.

Within the van, we experienced the normal annoyance and arguments that accompany any family. We differed on the subject.

“Moooom, Dagne is hogging the binoculars!”

“Just a minute, Ingrid!”

“OUCH! Get off of me! You’re hurting me!”

“I want to see! MOooove! You already saw! I want to see.”

On the way to our climbing site, a hiker may have seen us all teetering on the edge of an embankment exclaiming over the pair of Common Goldeneyes swimming placidly in the Crooked River.

Paul whistled appreciatively. “Wow! Look at that female. She’s hot!”

The girls giggled. We all took turns, noting the golden eye, the white patch on his cheek, her white collar, and the lovely breeding colors of a couple in love.

On the way home from tutoring today, I slammed on my brakes and swerved to the shoulder.  Elsa, whose eyes are better than mine, followed my directions and located the flycatcher in the binoculars.

From our driveway, we also sat idling to view a pair of American Wigeons on a date in the pond.

Spring is in the air. Or so our birds say.

Courtships blossom in the marshes, the ponds, the rivers, the trees, and the cliffs.

Be on the watch for birders suddenly braking so as to not miss a thing!


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