Today, I am in a good mood and feel happy because:  

The two Bohemian waxwings were still hanging around the museum of cedar waxwings, both of whom arrived yesterday.  Bohemian waxwings special because they are far, far rarer than the cedar waxwings.  The cedars are pretty snazzy-looking by themselves, and I look at them in my daily travels too.   One can tell the bohemians apart by the crimson/burgundy/rufus color under the tail and around the face.  They are also a bit bigger, but that’s only helpful if one can compare a cedar with a bohemian at the same time (which is still useful because, as we can see, they like to travel around together).  This was opportunistic because I “birded” only in transit, as my route to my dorm door takes me under the waxwing tree.

What does this mean?

Opportunistic birding is a easily one of the most rewarding ways to enhance life on earth.  Imagine deriving copious amounts of joy and justification every day, revolving around the day-to-day views of exotic birds.   Are there really that many exotic birds wandering around a tree near you?  Absolutely.  Everywhere I have lived and traveled to, I will find at least one exciting bird –that is, if I tune in correctly.   The first part of finding divine avian joy is simple;

  • Decide birds are fascinating, exciting, and scattered around you like a Where’s Waldo? original
  • Allow the innate curiosity and “buzz” be way more important than immediate applicability
  • Subsequently decide to read and research as much as possible in large binges about local birds…
    • Join E-bird
    • Download Merlin (North America and growing)
    • subscribe to all the local bird lists and updates
    • Visit your local sanctuary, patch of woods, river, marsh, sea bog, neighbor’s bird feeder

Then, once you know a robin and from a heron, a “murder” of fish crows from a “tournament” of wintering white throated sparrows to a “museum” of mixed cedar waxwings, you are done (with part one…)…

…Now the real fun begins!  You will know you have reached part two when:

  • You are walking to work or class and hear some chips and beeps…
    • it is winter:  You are inland, in a light mixed habitat of new-growth trees and leafless shrubby plants:
    • 2+2=4: this must mean there are small passerines wintering, likely in a mixed flock
  • You stop for 30 seconds; You hear fleeting piece of a sonorous whistle, then a flit with vertical slate and white stripes
    • 4+1+1=6:  You feel euphoric and grandiose, then continue walking to class, thinking happily about the slate-colored-junco group you just witnessed containing a single white-throated sparrow.  You arrive to your destination on time, unharmed, and in a jovial condition.

…This is opportunistic birding.   Good Luck!