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Saturday, June 21, 2008

I started birding before I was born

As I've looked back on it, I think I started birding in the 40s or 50s, though I wasn't actually born until just after the Summer of Love. How's that? Because the books I had, the most important sources of information for my early ornithological explorations, all came from previous decades. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But only a little. Here are the three most important books for my early birding life, taken from the local public library:

Birds of Oregon (1940), I.N. Gabrielson and S. G. Jewett.
A Guide to Birdwatching (1943), Joseph Hickey
(Golden Guide) Birds of North America (1966), Chan Robbins

As a kid in the early 80s, these were the most important books I had. I remember feeling the thrill of finding Brown Pelicans on the Oregon Coast a few days earlier than the earliest date listed by Gabrielson and Jewett. I tried to take field notes as instructed by Joe Hickey. And of course my field identifications all came from using the Golden Guide.

So maybe I'm exaggerating slightly to say I started in the 40s. But in the early 1980s, before I hooked up with the local rare bird alert and other serious birders, I was still birding in the 40s. Or at the very latest in 1966, a couple years before I was born!

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