Feelin’ Red Eyed

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo – probably one of our last migrants

It’s over.  It really is.  The long parade of migrants and the Easter-egg hunt for rarities is done.  Also finished are the nights of a couple hours sleep from waking insanely early to hunt for good birds to staying up way too late to blog and eBird those good birds.  In between waking and sleeping are way too many moments of checking for any new information on new arrivals, and sometimes this is done during the sleeping hours when I wake up in the middle of the night (several birders post to the listserv around 1 AM because the day’s birding was so good).  We birders are as bad as stock traders watching the capricious whims of something for which we have no control, experiencing similar feelings of euphoria when something good pops up and feelings of depression when something goes away as quickly as it came.  This constant flux of emotions can wreck havoc on an already exhausted body, but somehow we keep going out, keep searching for one more avian treasure.


Ironically, the conclusion of migration coincides with the end of my teaching year when I now actually have time to go after birds and be well rested.  All the chaos of migration also happens when life seems to be at the pinnacle of craziness with kid events, friend events, and just life in general.  This massive amount of birding has to be squeezed in around the bigger and more important things going on.

Since Evan and I have seen most everything we can around here, I often go out by myself during migration and come back to grab him when I find something good.  Surprisingly that happened a lot this spring, and way more life birds were added to the list for both of us than I ever anticipated.  I had intended to spend time with a few favorite birds and photograph ones I’ve missed previously, but I was constantly interuppted with rarities that I found or chased.  Maybe next year I’ll get to spend more time absorbed in the observation and photography of a particular species, something birding guide Erik Bruhnke refers to as zen-birding.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Right now we are transitioning into “hunting” mode.  There are a handful of resident birds that we have yet to see, either because of their scarcity, remarkable camouflage ability, or both.  We will be working on the list in the coming weeks.  The good news is that the birds will stay put; we just have to find out where they are and then get a good look at them.

It is also the time to catch up on photos of common birds. With fewer and fewer migrating birds to distract from these wallflowers, they can finally get their moment of glory.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

And maybe, just maybe, I will finally take pictures of things like American Robins and Mourning Doves.  I’ve been putting it off long enough, but it might be time to fill those holes.  I promise I won’t bore you with those images this summer.  Stay tuned, though, because there are some exciting summer birding forays planned with quite possibly a trip out-of-state.

2 thoughts on “Feelin’ Red Eyed

  1. Ha! Yeah June is the clean up month, see the residents and see who’s dawdling to get through.

    These are all crushing photos man! I dunno how you do it but good on ya’

    • The secret, it seems, to getting a good bird photo is to not really care at all. If there’s a life bird or rare bird on the line, it all goes out the window. You’re going to drool over that robin picture when I take it, just wait.

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