Maybe it’s that I am getting older or maybe it’s just that I seem to enjoy reminiscing more these days about the special birds and people that I have enjoyed over life’s journey. Whatever the reason might be, lately I have begun to think much more about the importance of keeping up my birding journal.
Now I must confess that I am not much of a list person even though I know in some birding circles that is frowned up to say the least. Maybe it’s because I am just not that organized of a person, but creating an actual bird life list seems to me personally as just that, a grocery list of birds and not much else.
Now just so you know I do keep a list locked away in my memory ready to look up anytime I find the need to recall my first Bald Eagle or Wood Thrush to anyone who is around to listen to me tell the story. However, I do keep something far more important and personal to me than a list: my birding journal.
My journal is a very special book that I can turn the pages and immediately go back to the woods and fields of days gone by whenever I feel the need to recall those very special birds and even better friends. My journal does definitely contain some writings about many of my first-time species, but for me it is more about my experiences with not only the birds but the people, the weather and maybe even flat tires by the roadside.
My journal is a book that I can go to when I want to reminisce, laugh and sometimes cry. It is my document of where I have been, what I did and many times what I failed to do. A birding journal is everyone’s life story that finds their hearts and souls renewed by the birds.
Now just so you know I don’t believe in placing my important bird memories on any Apps or computer program , or for that matter on any tablet and not even my phone. Birding memories are much too important and special to leave them on any impersonal electronic device, I firmly believe we need to go old school and put our fingers on a pen and a piece of paper and write down what comes from the heart.
Call me old fashioned and behind the times (My wife often does), but there is still human emotion and feeling in the hand-written word and I would want nothing less to be placed in my birding history than what I felt when I saw my first Barred Owl or who I was with when I found an injured Broad-winged Hawk.
Those are memories that need to be documented and preserved as much as any threatened or endangered species, protected for future generations to be learned from and cherished. Besides no one will be sitting by the fire in an old rocking chair reminiscing and reading your journal on a computer or phone. That won’t happen.
But on the other hand, your children or grandchildren might pick up your old birding journal one day and relive the birds you saw, the places you’ve been and the friends you enjoyed being with when you did what you loved most, being in nature with the birds.
Your old page worn journal may give them an insight into why you were crazy enough to be out before sunrise, through the snow, ice and rain and maybe just maybe get a hint of what the osprey or peregrine you wrote about actually means to who you are and how far you have come, and perhaps get a glimpse into who you truly are as a human being.
Write down your birding story, your history and life in nature , not only for yourself to enjoy. One day someone might sit down and enjoy it along with you and also learn from it and treasure it the same way you do.
See you in the Meadowlands – Don