Monday, May 21, 2012


snoba person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field 
and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions
 or have different tastes regarding this field.

I walked a trail near the river after work on Friday and then sat on a bench with my binoculars as I watched the water and sky. An older man approached and asked if I had seen anything interesting. 

"I saw a deer in the bush," I replied without much enthusiasm. After all, I had been looking for migrating birds and unusual wildflowers. Deer are common along the river, although not commonly seen.

"That's wonderful," he replied with a lot of enthusiasm. He proceeded to show me a small photo album of pictures he had taken along the trail this spring. I admired each grainy photo of ordinary birds, animals, reptiles and flowers including one of his cat. It was impossible to miss the obvious pleasure he took in walking this section of the river every day. 

That evening I read an excellent post by Larry of The Brownstone Birding Blog called 5 Symptoms of Avian Snob Syndrome and it made me remember my encounter earlier in the day. How easy it is to take everyday beauty around us for granted. We can spend so much time looking for something new and unusual that we ignore the rhythms of our immediate world.  When was the last time I experienced a child-like admiration for the perfect globe of a dandelion seed head? As adults we classify them as ugly weeds and lose the joy of discovery. 

Knowledge can lead to judgemental attitudes and snobbery in many areas of life. We may feel superior and look down on others who are not experts as we think we are in regards to food, health, fitness, child-rearing, religion, finance, fashion, education, photography, etc, etc. 

When our girls were young we often rode our bikes to a nearby pond to see the "ducks and geese". I now think Canada Geese are messy, overabundant nuisance birds and am not enthused when I see a flotilla of twenty young birds with their hissing parents. In a couple of weeks this family will be stopping traffic many times a day on the residential street as they walk back and forth picking the best lawns to eat, slowing down people in a rush to get somewhere.

This elderly man from a nearby nursing home was walking with a personal attendant beside the swamp. He stopped and admired the same geese for several minutes and then shuffled slowly ahead. Perhaps his vision was poor and the large birds were all he could see. Like a child, he savoured the moment and enjoyed the brief time he had out of a building. 

I continue to look for new and interesting things in this big, interesting world. But I don't want to lose the joy of rediscovery, of seeing ordinary events through the eyes of a child or an elder. Knowledge is easily accumulated but wisdom and understanding can be more elusive. Snobbery is subtle and destructive, arrogant and proud. 

"Life is not a race, but a journey to be savoured each step of the way."


Sunday, May 13, 2012


Sandhill Cranes with a very young colt
My Mothers' Day treat was spending the morning at Ruthven Park at the bird banding station. Spring migration is in full swing and I have had little time for birding in the past few weeks.  I saw many inspiring mothers.

Tree Swallow 
Female Bluebird feeding her newly fledged offspring
Kildeer sitting on her nest
Ruthven Park has a couple of graveyards. I sat on a bench by one of them to eat my lunch and noticed this tombstone erected in honour of a mother who was born the same day as me, but 129 years earlier. Her first name is similar to mine as well and she died on my mother's birthday, 55 years before Mom's birth. Almost 2 centuries after Eliza J. Rogers' started her journey on earth, we are reminded of the respect and affection her children had for their mother.

I had an unspoken wish for today, and that was to see a Scarlet Tanager for the first time. I left home before 5 AM and when I arrived at the park shortly after 6 AM, it was the first bird I spotted with my binoculars. When we did the first round of the mist nets, two beautiful males were caught together and I got to hold both of them!

Happy Mothers' Day to me, to my mother and mothers everywhere!

Photo by Rick Ludkin
55 Species seen today, 1 life bird and 28 FOY birds.

Tennessee Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Gray-blue Gnatcatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Palm Warbler, American Redstart, Nashville Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet

White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Common Grackle, Gray Catbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Cedar Waxwing, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Red-winged Blackbird, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, House Wren, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Flicker, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Bobolink

Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Rough-winged Swallow, Spotted Sandpiper, Belted Kingfisher, Caspian Tern, Herring Gull, Kildeer, Canada Goose, Mallard Duck, Great Blue Heron

Wild Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Sandhill Crane