Thirty years ago today I became a birder! While I had been a casual birdwatcher for awhile, it was the junior high school trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge thirty years ago that, depending on our perspective, either came to define or ruin the rest of my life!
We stopped off at a cave near Bend on the way over, and by evening we were at the refuge field station. I still remember we had spaghetti with zucchini in it for dinner that night. Common Nighthawks were roosting on the utility lines as we waited for dinner to be ready. I still can't smell sagebrush without being whisked back there. Since this was the first day that I started keeping a real bird list, I can actually look back to see what birds we saw that day!
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
It's been a wild and crazy ride since then! As a new birder, it wasn't easy to keep a mental picuture of all the new birds I saw that week. But some like the Burrowing Owl and the nighthawk are still fresh in my mind. Others like my first Western Grebe and Evening Grosbeak are way back in the musty recesses where they aren't readily available. I wish I could still remember my first coot, but I don't. It's like those first childhood memories--hard to really say why some stick and others don't. But even if I don't remember them, I have them written down, so I know they were there for my very first day or real birding.
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