I’ve written before about how I enjoy birds. When our first granddaughter, Alli, was born, I would lay her outside on a blanket under a tree and talk to her about the trees, clouds, squirrels, rabbits and birds. I continued this as she grew older and then with her younger siblings. At our house, it was deer, bear, frogs, snakes, skinks and flowers. I hoped that this would sink in and someday they would enjoy it as much as I do. I bought three sets of binoculars for them to use at our house. The three-year old wanted ‘noculars for his birthday, even though he still insists on using them backwards. On hikes, the binoculars have to come along – even if they don’t know what they are using.
I guess all my talking paid off. A few weeks ago, I was watching the two younger ones (ages 5 and 3) at their house. They were playing in the backyard while I went into the house to make them a snack. Suddenly they came running up the deck yelling for me. “What’s that sound? What bird is making that sound?” They were so excited. I went outside to listen. It was a mourning dove. Then came the questions: “What does it look like?” Where is it’s nest?” “Does it have babies?” “What does it eat?” I longed for a bird book.
Then Alli, now eight, came home. She quickly showed me two books she had checked out of the school library that day. I couldn’t believe it – “Birds of Wisconsin” and “Mammals of Wisconson.” The five-year old ran in the house to get their one pair of binoculars and we sat on the front porch looking for birds. I never in a million years thought my grandkids would fight over a bird book and binoculars – everything else, but not a bird book. They figured out if a bird was brown, they needed to look in the brown section. The five-year-old, who starts kindergarten in the fall, somehow managed to find a mourning dove, even though we hadn’t seen one. Alli read the book on the way to swimming lessons, when she went to bed and on the way to school the next morning. During the next day, the other two kept going through it over and over again.
During the next day, Emmi would grab my hand and point to a bird, tiptoe to it, with her finger over her lips to make sure I was quiet. I couldn’t quite convince her that since we were in the house and the bird was outside, it couldn’t really hear us. She did understand that the birds could see our reflection in the window and would fly away. This past week they have been looking for the cardinals, but as the trees are starting to leaf out, they are getting harder to see. At least they are trying. They are even starting to put sounds with the correct birds.
To say that I am thrilled about their enjoyment of birds, is putting it mild. I watch them and realize I have made a difference in their lives – as far as nature goes anyway. Hopefully I’ll live long enough to watch them have children and pass birding on. What a joy that would be.
I have tried adding pictures of them on hikes with their binoculars, but for some reason (could it be my lack of technology?) I’m having trouble today.