Chip Notes: November/December, 2016
By Bob Janssen, MRVAC President Elect
A number of years ago I was asked to give a talk to a local bird club on how and when I began my interest in birds and birding. The following article, titled “My Passion” is the talk that I gave to the group. With my recent appointment to the board of MRVAC, I thought this experience would be of interest to the readers of the Trumpeter. This may remind you of your own personal experiences of how you became interested in birds.
Several blocks from my home, I was riding down the sidewalk heading for the busy intersection wondering, “which way should I go”. Suddenly a plump, robust bird flashed right in from of my face. It had a bright yellow breast, with a black “V” on its throat, brownish back and white on both sides of its tail. “It’s a Meadowlark” I screamed.
I made a quick U-turn and headed straight home. I rode up the alley as fast as I could, swerved into the back yard of our house, threw my bike down on the grass and ran into the house. I bounded down the steps to the basement where my mother was ironing the doing the wash. “Mom” I yelled, “I just saw a Meadowlark”. With all the interest and compassion she could muster, she said, “Oh Bobby that is just great, what fun you must have had seeing that bird, I didn’t know there were Meadowlarks so close to our house”. She seemed to be as excited as I, what a great feeling!!
As I think back on this experience the great mystery to me was how did I know that the bird I saw was a Meadowlark? Maybe there was a picture of a Meadowlark in some unknown book or magazine and the image was unconsciously “burned” in my brain.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I got an actual bird book, the Chester A. Reed “Bird Guide”. I remember it well, it was an odd shaped, horizontal book in a slipcase, it was red imitation leather on the cover and it contained many color illustrations (rather poor ones I learned later) of the birds of eastern North America. It was my prized possession.
By my 10th birthday we had moved to Edina, near Minnehaha Creek and my passion for birds had grown dramatically. It was on this birthday I graduated to the “big leagues” of bird-watching when I received my very own copy of Roger Tory Peterson’s “A Field Guide to the Birds”. I now became aware that there were 100’s of species of birds to be seen right in my own area. I memorized the book from cover to cover, page by page and especially Peterson’s beautiful illustrations. This book took my passion to new levels.
Seventy-five years later I am still intrigued by every bird I see. Why do I and many others see birds with such special interest and passion? There are probably many reasons; birds represent freedom, they are natural art objects, they provide us with stress-relief, they re-connect us with nature, (something we humans sorely need). Birds test our observational and hearing skills thus making us acutely aware of our surroundings and the list could go on and on.
David Sibley, America’s leading ornithologist wrote the “The Sibley Guide to Birds” in 2000 and over 35,000 copies were sold in the first couple months it was available. Because of this success he was interviewed by main-stream media and asked why birding was so popular. I remember his answer “no two days of birding are ever the same, birders are never bored”.
Birds provide me with continual enjoyment, no matter where I am or what time of day or what season, they are a continual challenge to my awareness skills and best of all they are just plain fun to look at. I will never know how I knew the bird I saw so long ago in was a Meadowlark, but I do know that this particular bird changed a young boy’s life forever.
I was seldom, if every asked in my younger days why I was interested in birds. Now, I am asked that question almost every day and the best way for me to answer it is a quote from Aldo Leopold and his classic work “A Sand County Almanac”. “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot”.
Holiday Auction: November 17
MRVAC’s holiday auction is one of our primary fundraisers. Come and bid often, bid high and have fun doing it for our environmental education program! Read more.
Give to the Max Day: November 17
Once again, MRVAC will be participating in Give to the Max Day. Give to the Max Day will be held on Thursday, November 17, 2016. Donors will be able to schedule their Give to the Max Day gifts during our Scheduled Giving period beginning Tuesday, November 1, 2016.
Christmas Bird Count (CBC) + Soup Supper: December 17 & 18
Old Cedar Avenue Bridge now open!
One of our favorite birding spots is back. Just in time for the late-fall migration, the old Cedar Avenue bridge has reopened. Plus, a black swan has been hanging out, so get out to see it while you can! 9500 Old Cedar Avenue, Bloomington, MN, 55425
Become a bird walk leader/co-leader
MRVAC is looking for people interested in leading or co-leading local bird walks. You don’t need to be an expert, just someone who knows a little something about birds and where to find them. Read more.
MRVAC Grant Requests
We’ll be reviewing grant requests in early 2016. If you know of an organization that fits the mission of MRVAC, read more here.
Raise money for MRVAC while shopping with AmazonSmile
When customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. We hope you will select the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter!
Join the Environmental Action Committee
Help MRVAC make a difference for birds and wildlife – and the special places we like to visit. Learn more.
Treats needed for upcoming meetings
We always need treats! If you can bring a few dozen cookies, bars or some easy- to-eat snack to share at one of our meetings, please call Robin, the Social Chair, at 612-723-2633 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.