As anyone who was at my wedding can attest, I like birds.
I think it all started when I was in elementary school and had a weird obsession with parrots. I am neutral toward parrots now, because the one endemic species found in the United States was driven to extinction about 100 years before I was born. There are feral populations in much of the country, though, of which I have seen a few species, but it’s not the same as seeing a bird in its native habitat. But to a kid, parrots are pretty cool. Probably because they are brightly colored animals that can talk. Trips to Disney World only reinforced how cool this concept is to a 7-year-old.
Fast forward to around 2005 and I was a sophomore at Ohio State. My uncle had sent me a small point-and-shoot digital camera, and I was trying to figure out a project that would let me put it to use outside of my intermittent trips out of town. One day while at Mirror Lake, I noticed a Northern Cardinal (I did not know at the time the proper prefix), and tried to photograph it. Then I saw an American Goldfinch (again, I was oblivious to the “American” part), and was amazed that two different kinds of birds would present themselves to me. I didn’t get a decent photo of either one, but it was then that I decided to document all of the wildlife at Ohio State. After a month or so of wandering around campus looking for animals, I realized that the most diverse wildlife at Ohio State was bird life, and I didn’t know what any of them were, so I started looking them up. I then realized how many kinds of birds there are, and I realized that I had a life-long quest perfectly lined up in front of me. That’s when I became a birder. I got a new camera with a 12x zoom and the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, and the game was on.
Because that camera has just recently gone the way of the Carolina Parakeet, I present to you now some of the earliest birds that I photographed while at OSU.
This Brown Creeper flew directly in front of me on the South Oval and landed at eye level on a tree trunk about two feet away from me during fall of my senior year. It was a pretty lucky catch.
During my junior year, I went on a Habitat for Humanity trip to Brunswick, GA. Our group went to the beach one day and I just started snapping pictures of all of the shore birds I could, not having any idea what they were. Peterson confirmed that my life list included these Willets, and this is still one of my favorite bird photos that I have taken.
On another Habitat trip in Bluffton, SC, this Northern Mockingbird wanted to help us out on the job site. After flapping around terrified for a few minutes, our trip leader threw a towel over it and transported it outside, but not before I was able to take this picture.
More to come soon, especially once this whole master’s degree thing is all finished (19 days, but who’s counting?).