It should come as no surprise to anyone even remotely acquainted with the practice that birding is a thrill for the senses. The term “bird watching” gives away the powerful visual component of this activity, but birding is a true multi-sensory experience. For example, birding can be a highly auditory act. Some skilled field birders are able to identify as many birds with their ears as they do with their eyes. Trying to name, say, a particular Empidonax flycatcher without using its song or vocalization can be virtually impossible, kind of like holiday shopping without a credit card!
Birding touches other senses as well. Birds are found all over the world, in every conceivable environment. Depending on your quarry, you might enjoy the briny tang of the ocean, the loamy scent of a deep wood, or the noisome assault of a garbage dump (great for gulls!) As far as tactile sensations go, if you haven’t endured frigid temperatures and cutting winds in the search for a new winter bird, you’re leaving too many amazing owls, seabirds, and boreal species on the table. The one sense I can’t match to birding is taste; if you can taste it, you’re eating, not birding.
Birding blogs can also stimulate us on multiple levels. Woodsong by the sensational Cindy Mead has both words and pictures! Maybe you’re not impressed yet, but that just means you haven’t read her impassioned work or seen her phenomenal photos. Cindy is a consummate naturalist and photographer, the proprietor, in fact, of WoodSong Nature Photography. Treat yourself to an early holiday treat and read Cindy’s blog. After all, she is the host of a very festive I and the Bird #13!
What an amazing year of bird blogging 2005 has been. If you can’t recall just how brilliant the bird blogging has been, I invite you to browse past editions of I and the Bird. The New Year promises to be even more sensational. Resolve to be more generous with your observations of wild avifauna by contributing to the first I and the Bird of 2006, hosted by Gwyn of Bird brained stories! IATB #14 is scheduled for Thursday, January 5 so send in a summary and link to your best bird-related blog post to either me or Gwyn by Tuesday, January 3.
(Thanks to Troutgrrrl for the festive IATB graphic.)
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