How Birding Became a Go-To Quarantine Hobby
Becoming a birder taught me the art of seeing what I’m looking at
You know that feeling you get when you say a word over and over until it becomes so strange you can’t help but laugh? That’s how I feel about birds.
The idea of brightly colored singing machines whizzing through the air, gathering on telephone wires, and collectively vacationing during winter is absolutely preposterous. We as a species are definitely too chill about the fact that there are birds that can literally speak English. I remember seeing a parrot talking with its handler on a recent vacation and thinking to myself, “That’s neat.” Looking back at this interaction now, I’ve concluded that witnessing a speaking animal obviously blew my mind so much, that my brain could do nothing but minimize the experience to a novelty. But, I digress.
Actually, no. I don’t digress.
Watch this right now.
After seeing this, I had to lie down for a cool 30 and stare at the ceiling to decompress. Anyway.
I am here today to announce to the world that I am a birder.
Here’s how it all started: Like many of us working from home during the Great Pandemic of 2020, I’ve been guilty of spacing out during obscenely long Zoom calls. During one of those inadvertent mental breaks, I found myself observing the wildlife roaming free in my backyard — the squirrels wreaking havoc on my newly planted garlic, the rabbits ravaging on my peas.
Then I noticed a strange-looking bird.
As any decent employee would do in the middle of a work call, I discreetly opened a new tab and searched for bird identification websites. After submitting my poorly zoomed-in photo, I was startled to find out that it was a female cardinal, one of the most well-known birds in North America. While I knew I was no bird expert, I was taken aback by the fact that I wasn’t able to recognize something I’ve most likely seen thousands of…