Wandering Aimlessly


The Big Year

by Phil Burkhouse


Most birders begin with basic bird identification and evolve into being able to identify more and more birds as their addiction spreads.  Most people, even though neophyte bird brains, can identify robins, cardinals, and crows.  If interest progresses, a field guide and binocular are purchased and you are on your way to becoming a full-fledged birder.

I honed my observation skills on bird identification but did not really get into birding until I was an adult.  Mark Johnson was a resource that really had a major impact on my addiction to birding.  Mark is a brother-in-law and was taken “under the wing” of an enthusiastic Audubon birder when he lived in New York.  When I met Mark I could readily recognize most of our birds but classified many only by family, identifying them only as warblers or sparrows.  I had a lot to learn.

One of the amazing facets of birding that Mark opened for Mary and I was auditory birding.  I was good at hearing and identifying turkeys, crows, and owls, but if you spent an hour birding with Mark, an entire new world was opened for you.



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