Today I birded. I wasn't aware it was a verb, but I rose at the ass-crack of dawn to accompany author and naturalist Frances Wood to observe a whole world that's been hiding in plain sight.
I mean, it's not like we got into camouflage and hid in the bushes. A simple walk with binoculars revealed half a dozen different varieties. What struck me immediately was how much a birder is like an artist because birding makes you look at the world with different eyes. What poet Angela Ball calls "a double way of seeing."
(Not that I know anything about poetry, either. Poet, managing editor of Red Hen Press and my new BFF Kate Gale gave me that quote.)
While Frances explained the difference between bird songs (for mating and defining territory) and bird calls (the avian equivalent of IM pinging), she also shared her abiding love of nature, teaching me a new word: Biophilia. "Environmentalists are often accused of choosing nature over humans," she said, "but preserving nature is essential to preserving our human nature."
Oh, and don't ever call a gull a seagull. The birds don't mind, but it irritates the birders.