Sunday, April 14, 2013

Deep questions about ridiculous things

So, here are some examples of the types of questions that run through my head rather frequently... "Why do people so easily forget the 1987-1993 Houston Oilers, and how amazing and ahead of their time they were with the 'run and shoot'?" "If I'm driving from Austin to Houston at a set rate of speed, can I use math to determine the exact minute I'll pull into the driveway of my destination?" "How much of an impact can a major/minor key switch have on a piece of music?" More often than not, I have answers for these questions... "Because of that playoff game." "Most of the time, yes." "A big impact." 

Broad-winged Hawk - the only perched migrant hawk I've seen this year.
Blue-headed Vireo - some of these dudes have been confused for possible Cassin's in Texas, lately.
First Scissor-tailed Flycatcher of the year.  If this bird doesn't knock the wind out of you, I think it's safe to say that you lack a soul.
But yesterday morning, I asked a question which I'm not sure I have the answer to. Here's what went down.  I picked up the Yard Bird King of Travis County (henceforth referred to as AJ), and drove to the super secret nightjar spot before sunup.  As we stood there, at 5:45 in the morning, out in the middle of nowhere, with Common Poorwills and Chuck-will's-widows singing all around us, I posited the question, rhetorically at first, before it started to fester in my brain, "Why is everyone in Austin not out here right now, listening to these nightjars?"

Northern Parula
Louisiana Waterthrush - been having fun watching these birds fly up and down Bull Creek.
AJ was a bit struck by the question and said so, which is probably why it sat in my head for the rest of the day.  So, at first the answer seems obvious, right?  "Because it's 5:45 in the morning and you're listening to (and not even looking at) birds."  But how obvious is that answer, really?  So, in my head, this blurs the boundaries of what is absolute and what is relative.  This is a constant struggle for me because I don't believe in absolutes in most aspects of life and existence; I only believe in absolutes trivially, and dependent upon cultural and societal customs and norms.  For instance, I absolutely believe that making the conscience decision to dine at Applebee's is indicative of one surrendering all ambition and appreciation of the things that make life worth living.  

Red-eyed Vireo - first of year.
One of two Canyon Towhees that were causing a ruckus.
Ash-throated Flycatcher - first of year bird.
To apply that to that topic at hand, I absolutely believe that, given the opportunity and exposure, every human being on the planet should be fascinated/borderline compulsively obsessed with looking at, listening to, and studying the birds around them.  It amazes me that there aren't 1000 people in my way every time I go out.  Please take note, I most decidedly DO NOT want these people to suddenly become aware of the birds around them.  I like my secret birding spots, and I love the isolation that these spots provide.  People talk way too much without conveying any useful information, and while I understand that's something I have to deal with in some aspects of my life, it would be a damn shame for that to enter the sanctity of my birding world.  

Rock Wren - pretty jazzed to have this bird pop up right in front of me.
Four of about three hundred Franklin's Gulls seen at Hornsby.
But that doesn't draw me away from the fact that I feel like I'm getting away with something here.  That I'm onto some shit that's flying just under people's radars.  That if people would look up just once, they'd realize that they've been missing out on a pretty breathtaking show.  And after some deep contemplation and self searching, I realize why that terrifies me so much.  Because, if the other option were true, if people knew that there were Painted Buntings, and Golden-cheeked Warblers, and Wood Ducks all around them; if they knew that and they just didn't care; well, that means that I'm nothing more than a red-headed, binocular toting weirdo.


  1. I know what you mean. That is a damn good last paragraph there. Last two paragraphs actually.

    Serious bird envy going on in this post too.

  2. I am amazed, over and over again, how the STUNNING AMAZING-NESS of The Nature goes RIGHT PAST so many people.

    Really?!? I feel like they're missing out on the most amazing thing about being alive on this planet. Namely, the planet.

    However, if I lived near you, and I just learned about the dawn fabulocity that is what you've witnessed, I'd make plans. But, if I hadn't gone, I'm sure ignorance would be the culprit. That sort of thing is seldom reported to the masses vs. reality tv developments, so there's also that. Lack of information.

    But, I'm with you: people who do know, and still don't give a crap? I have no words. I'm just grateful for the wonderful people in my life who appreciate the natural world and live consciously, while biting my knuckles re: the fate of our planet (based on my assessment of most of its residents).

  3. This is how I feel while looking out airplane windows. I'm always surprised to find everyone else fixated on books or videos, or backs of seats while a whole world of pretty puts on a show outside. We're lucky.

  4. Great collection of birds and photos. Visiting from Jen's blog. I especially love your flycatchers. Very cool!

  5. I found you via Jen too. Totally agree with the last two paragraphs. We are onto a good thing! But don't let the word get out....better to be a bin toting weird-o. :) Nice photos!