I spent a long holiday weekend with much family time, and Walter and I went kayaking downtown on Monday afternoon. They don’t call Fort Wayne the Three Rivers City for nothing!
It was Walter’s first time in a boat, and he did remarkably well. The fine folks at Fort Wayne Outfitters helped make paddling with kids easy and fun.
We stayed on the water for over an hour, which with a three year old is pretty good. We toured about one and a half miles of the city’s rivers, including those right alongside its namesake fort, several downed logs with plenty of turtles to observe, and three bridges which were counted. Having biked to the depot, I was also keeping an eye out for birds to add to the green list.
Walter proved to be the reason why I was able to add one to the list. He demanded that I paddle over to a floating beer can, and when we got there we flushed an adult Black-crowned Night Heron from the trees overhead. I managed a smartphone photo before it disappeared. In two and a half years, I have added birds to the list by foot and by bicycle, but this was the first time I got a year bird while in a kayak. Make that a three-dimensional green list!
I encourage Walter to observe the birds around us and tell him what we see, and he is able to identify several species by sight and sound. But I have tried to leave the obsessive-compulsive listing behavior out of it. However, after seeing the heron, I was trying to tell Walter why it was a special bird. I remember saying something along the lines of “I haven’t seen one yet this year, so now I can add it to my list.” Two days later, and tonight while on a walk Walter says unprompted, “Dad, I want to put these birds on my list!” while we were looking at some House Sparrows. When we got home he could not recall what we had seen earlier, but he was able to identify the bird on our feeder as “a girl woodpecker” (it was in fact a female Downy), so he listed that instead. And now my son’s official self-initiated life list is at one species! I couldn’t be prouder. We are officially a two-generation birding household.