What is it about birds?

Varied Thrush Visits Back Deck in West Seattle
What is it about watching birds? On Saturday as I sat staring out the window, a host of unusual birds: a varied thrush, a northern flicker, and several junkos all came by. This all happened within a few minutes at about noon. I've lived here for almost thirteen years and never before have I seen so many different birds at one time.

The older I get the more birds astonish me. They're a gentle reminder of what is all around us. They help me practice the art of paying attention. If only I was better at remembering it. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I write. To remember astonishment.


  1. Birds also are environmental harbingers. It pays to watch what they do. Just the afternoon before Hurricane Sandy tore through our area, scores of black birds (I'm not sure what kind they were as I wasn't wearing my glasses) arrived and filled the highest branches and just screeched. It was incredible to see and hear them. And just like that, they were gone.

    1. Hi Maureen,

      The birds were here the Saturday after Hurricane Sandy and I did wonder if there was a connection...

  2. I feel the same way as I get older. And the funny thing is, I distinctly remember being a teenager and wondering why both of my grandmothers liked birds so much. Now I get it! I keep a pair of binoculars in my desk drawer so I can look at the birds in the trees and the telephone line above my office.

    And I do think they are great communicators--if only we understood them better. One morning I was awakened by a pair of crows outside on the wire. It wasn't until a little while later, when I saw a gray fox crawl out from under my deck, that I realized that's probably what the crows were cawing about.

  3. Mary Oliver's exhortation-

    Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

    Good idea.

    1. Yes! I heard her speak at Seattle University last winter and she said as much.

  4. Hi Angie,

    Yes! I remember that it was always adults that cared about things like birds, flowers, and the names of trees. As a child, I had no interest --- although the interest in plants and flowers came when I moved to the country.

    I too have binoculars that I keep by the window. I think if bird watching didn't mean getting up so early in the morning it might be my new obsession. I have gone "birding" with friends and it is both bizarre and interesting to me. Maybe you and I should go bird watching during our next adventure!


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