The Joy of Watching Birds and Birdwatchers!

blog-John-Schaust-100213A few weeks ago it was my distinct honor to be one of the presenters and field trip leaders at the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium in Lakeside, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie.

For hundreds of bird watchers, this gathering is a highlight of their birding year as the weekend is chocked full of speakers, workshops, a Birder’s Marketplace and some of the best fall birding opportunities in the Midwest.

But don’t think that the only attendees where crusty old birders like me. On the contrary, the largest majority was made up of people fairly new to the world of birding, and that’s what made it so much fun!

Time after time I was moved by the joy and excitement of these novice birders.

Like Christy, who while on an early morning bird hike literally jumped for joy when she found and indentified a male American Redstart all by herself. It was a outpouring of pure delight and discovery.

Or the mother from Maryland and the daughter from Colorado who I sat with at lunch. They had each driven from their respective states to meet up at the symposium. They wanted to see if this birding thing was really all that it is cracked up to be. We shared an hour of non-stop conversation about birds, birding apps and birding destinations around the country. They were obviously already hooked. Birding – what a cool way for them to stay close despite the large geographic distance between them.

And then there was the person just three weeks out from hip replacement surgery. With the encouragement of her doctor, and the support of her posse of friends, she had made the last minute decision to attend the symposium. Obviously limited in her endurance and movement, most of her efforts were spent attending workshops and presentations. At least that was until her friends took her and her wheel chair to nearby marsh with a boardwalk trail. The look on her face after a glorious morning of birding was not to be missed; and just what the doctor ordered!

Birds are cool and so are birdwatchers; they are both fun to be around and watch. I am thankful for the joy they bring to my world.

My special thanks to the folks at the Midwest Birding Symposium for letting me be a part of the fun again this year.

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