To bird, or not to bird, that is the question

By Ashley Teixeira Davies, Regional Conservationist, Americorps MassLIFT member
To bird of course! Before coming to SVT I spent little time thinking about birds beyond listening to them chirp outside of my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning. I have never disliked birds. I just haven’t paid very much attention to them. All that has changed since I’ve been at SVT.
Since September I’ve been surrounded by bird lovers. Outside of my office window is a birdfeeder that has come alive in recent months and the great staff here at SVT have made sure that I’ve noticed. Ron McAdow, SVT’s Executive Director, has often popped in and announced the arrival of a bird species that has graced our feeder for the first time this spring. Dan Stimson, SVT’s Assistant Director of Stewardship, who has the desk closest to this feeder, will often confer with Ron on what he has seen. While the two discuss bird matters I embarrassingly ask many questions, but my questions are always responded to with patient answers describing bird characteristics and explaining how to identify particular species.
Not only has listening to Ron, Dan, and other staffers taught me a great deal about birds, I have “caught” their excitement. One day last month Ron enthusiastically pointed out a rose-breasted grosbeak, and the next day I found myself delightedly pointing one out to my in-laws in New Jersey. This past weekend while sitting on my front porch I was able to identify two house sparrows mating, then as I walked around to the back of the house I noticed an eastern phoebe announcing her presence in a brush pile, finally I spotted a woodpecker at the top of a dead oak tree. I have since put up a birdfeeder and several bird houses in my yard and am truly enjoying bird watching this spring, even when I’m just at home.
I used to wonder at how birds alone could evoke such excitement, but I am beginning to learn. Birds are among the most visible of all our wildlife, surrounding us on a daily basis, but that should never make us numb to their presence. I am grateful to have been roused from the stupor I was in for all those years. Birds are truly amazing creatures and I’m sure I will continue to learn something new about them every day for years to come.