25 August 07
Welcome to Bird by Bird, a blog started in August 2007 as I approach 700 birds seen in the ABA area (North America including Canada and Alaska, excluding Hawaii) and which has me at a crossroads. It’s expensive and environmentally irresponsible to gad about the country adding birds to my list. (I have neither unlimited time nor unlimited funds for this kind of activity, and at this point the price per bird goes way up.)
Some birders at this point in their list settle into county listing, or state listing (easier if you live in a small state). Others start photographing birds, building their list back up with a photo of each species they had previously seen. (Some keep on going, chasing 750 and even 775; I will never be one of them.)
Me, I’m going to start sketching. A bird a day. Bird by bird, like Annie Lamott says.
Sketching birds makes you look at the bird hard. If you look hard enough, it makes the bird part of your psyche. This takes your head to a different place, one that is unfettered by obligations. I’m not particularly good, but I hope to get better. You do it enough, it gets easier. You see more.
Today’s bird is a white-faced ibis, sketched at the Yolo Bypass. It was getting hot. There were birders around because a glossy ibis — an eastern vagrant — had been reported that morning. I found myself smiling that I was content to study the white-faced ibises rather than worry that I couldn’t see the glossy. This is my introduction to a new quest: not a new bird, each time, but a sketch. The bird in front of me, not the one that got away…
I hope to produce one of these for Bird by Bird every day, though they won’t always be new birds. We are seeing a lot of the turkeys from our kitchen window, for example. But my efforts are now shifting away from chasing to recording…
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