I and the Bird

It’s summertime and the birding is easy… easy that is because all we have to contend with in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere are resident breeders. Once the mapcap excitement of migration dies down, we’re left with the usual suspects, just robins and catbirds and sparrows, etc. etc.

JUST robins? JUST catbirds?

It can be so easy to dismiss the birds we see every day, to overlook our most familiar feathered friends no matter how spectacular they may truly be. For example, the Gray Catbird is a remarkably handsome mimid, classy in its charcoal plumage and black cap. Incredibly welcome when April reaches the New York area, the catbird becomes incredibly vexing once it starts obscuring other, less common species. The American Robin is another bird undone by its own success. Considering how colorful it is compared to the brown on brown subtlety of the Catharus thrushes, you’d think that this Turdus would be treated better than, well, a turd. But instead of recognizing the adaptive genius of this widespread spirit of the suburbs, we simply say, “It’s just a robin.”

While I’m often overtaken by this sour attitude myself, I’m trying hard to appreciate avifauna (and just about everything else) for what they are, rather than what I might wish they were. After all, the Red-legged Thrush is an amazing looking creature, cinereous like a catbird but blessed with legs and eyerings the color of blood. The times I’ve encountered them have been memorable indeed, yet they are truly the robins of the Caribbean, as common in their territory as the most common bird in your own. Locals may find themselves complaining, “It’s just a Red-legged Thrush,” but I never would. So why rag on the robin or any of its peers? Familiarity might breed contempt, but if you push through that scorn, you might find a refreshing appreciation and respect!

All this comes to mind because Liza Lee Miller is (finally!) hosting I and the Bird. Her charming blog used to be called The Egret’s Nest but not that long ago, she changed its name to It’s Just Me. JUST Liza Lee? How can someone so funny, fun, and focused on the right things in life say, “It’s just me?” Be that as it may, I’m not here to bury Liza Lee, or even get her to change the name of her blog, but to praise her, especially for her wonderful, Wordle-illustrated edition of I and the Bird #78. Enjoy it!

Can you believe the third anniversary of I and the Bird is here already? Three years of the best bird blogging on the planet deserves something special so instead of talking about birds (boring!) let’s talk about ourselves! For the first anniversary, I asked everyone to write about why they bird, blog, and/or blog about birds. For the second anniversary, I urged everyone to summarize why their blogs were must-read material. After all this time, I have another question, one I hope the hundreds of contributors we’ve had over the years will consider and confront…

To be a part of the third anniversary edition of I and the Bird, simply answer the following burning question in a post on your site: Why are you still bird blogging?

Don’t take this question the wrong way! We want to know what wonderful experiences/insights/interactions bird blogging has rendered unto you over your weeks, months, or years of micropublishing. Why, despite the difficulties, time-pressures, and other things to do (like birding), are you still at it?

What makes this anniversary edition of IATB even more exciting is that it’s being hosted by Charlie Moores, the second-ever host of our favorite blog carnival and someone who helped shape this collaboration from the very beginning. So write a post on your blog tackling this pointed question by Tuesday, July 8 and send your link to me (mike AT 10000birds DOT com) or Charlie (charlie10000birds AT googlemail DOT com) for the July 10 edition!

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.