Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

On Seeing New Birds

Starlings at Hornsby Bend

Starlings at Hornsby Bend

In the past few days, I’ve identified several new birds for my life list: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Greater Yellowlegs, and American Kestrel. I’ve also gotten my first look at an Eastern Screech Owl. Pretty good start for the new year, there.

When I ID a new bird, I like to learn a little bit about its behavior. I have two good books for this: The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior and The Behavior of Texas Birds, both of which I recommend. I never seem to lose interest in these secret little lives going on all around.

The really funny thing about IDing a new bird is that once I’ve figured out the bird and how to see it, I start seeing it even more frequently. Sometimes it appears as though they are everywhere. Where were all these birds the last time I came here? I wonder.

They were there, of course. I just didn’t know to distinguish them, know how to see them. There is an aspect to birding that creates an awareness of any given moment that is easy to lose when thoughts center on other places and times than the here and now.

Seeing a new bird for the first time reminds me of that most important thought: be here now.

When I went down to the pond on New Year’s Day, I saw several Ruby-crowned Kinglets flitting about in the trees. I doubt they just arrived. More likely than not, they’ve been there all along, at least at this time of year. The thing that’s different is that since seeing that one in the backyard, now I notice them instead of my brain just processing small grayish bird and moving on.

The more I learn the more I see.

I suspect most things in life are like that.


  1. So very well put. I have found myself in similar situations with birds, flowers, trees… anything that is new to me that is now on my brain’s permanent “radar”. Glad your birding year has gotten off to a good start.

    I loved the new episodes of LOST! I thought they did a really good job touching on all of the relevant story lines. I have felt let down with several LOST season premiers in the past, but not this season. What did you think?

  2. I really liked the new episodes. I’m still trying to process. As Locke said on viewing the orientation film back in Season 2, “We’re going to need to watch that again.”

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