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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My 30th Birdiversary!

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!

Who knew when the two vans full of kids and teachers pulled out from Oregon City for the five day field trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain that thirty years later one of those kids would still look back on that day with such importance!

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!

Killdeer
American Crow
American Robin
Western Scrub-Jay
European Starling
House Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
Turkey Vulture
Rock Pigeon
Violet-green Swallow
Western Grebe
Yellow-headed Blackbird
American Coot
American Kestrel
Barn Swallow
Black-billed Magpie
Burrowing Owl
California Quail
Canada Goose
Clark's Nutcracker
Common Nighthawk
Evening Grosbeak
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-necked Pheasant
Song Sparrow

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.

1 comment:

Birding is Fun! said...

Congrats on 30 years!

That's so cool that Malheur was your big entrance into a lifetime of birding. Malheur NWR is also like that for me. It was my first real birding adventure with my father-in-law and birding mentor. What a great place to get a start in birding!

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