Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Existential Crises, The Sodium/Potassium Pump, and Glorious Bird Crushings

This Grasshopper Sparrow, as well as all of the other birds in this post, was extremely accommodating during a rainy ten hour day of birding on the east side.
It has become both something of a running joke and a source of internal conflict how infrequently I have been birding of late. In addition to the general moroseness my lack of birding has installed in me, it has also brought about a certain amount of shame. Not necessarily a disproportionate amount, as with so many other shame tinged aspects of my life, but enough to cause me existential discomfort. I wish that I could say that I have devised a plan to reconcile this shortcoming, but alas...I have as yet been unsuccessful. 

Lark Sparrow, a bird whose back streaking I may have never really noticed/appreciated until now. 
This Upland Sandpiper was one of the small proportion that are seen; the vast majority are heard as nocturnal flyovers.
You see, birding for me is something that needs to be balanced. It is often a constructive effort to be sure, but this pastime of mine (ours?) also has a nasty tendency to lend itself to overindulgence and the line between those two states can become virtually invisible at times. Don't get me wrong, I heartily enjoy birding, more so every day that I partake, but I (we) must also be cognizant of the fact that we are all much closer than we'd like to admit to falling into an irreversible state of madness. We all have a finite amount of free time in our lives, some more than others obviously, but it would be a tragedy if birding consumed more than it's fair share of our time at the expense of gainful employment, sleeping, nourishing, and socializing. I would even go so far to say that this may be what is so offensive about so many birders today. Overindulgence, bordering on obsession.

After seeing maybe 1,500 Red-shouldered Hawks, I finally had one sit still.
I assume this Summer Tanager was a very recent migrant, frantically eating and not residing at the very top of a tree.
You see, this is the root of the problem I've been trying to work out. Everything in life has to be balanced. Here is a metaphor. Your heart beats because of sodium and potassium. And although sodium and potassium have completely opposite goals and objectives, they must find a way to balance themselves out and work together (the sodium-potassium pump). If they don't do that, we don't live anymore. In my life, and some of yours, I would assume, I struggle to maintain the same sort of balance between the serenity of solitude I achieve whilst looking at birds and the sanity I retain from conversing, cavorting, and consuming whilst in the presence of those people whose presence I enjoy. Sometimes I am successful. Other times (the past year for example) I am not. Life is a struggle. Nothing is forever. Things change around us and we must adapt. If not, we will die. Or, we could all just write blog posts about it.

Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper


  1. Crushy post. That's a colorful Grasshopper Sparrow. The cursing is notable in its absence. As far as balance goes, I think its fine to be obsessed (I am) but if you like other things, then that is the only balance anyone really needs. One-dimensional birders is what I find offensive, not obsession...but being obsessed, I am biased as fuck.

    You need to bird more.

  2. I can't really complain nor cast a stone as my birding has been deplorably inconsistent and brief the last 7 months. I tell myself it will change soon but who really knows. Take what you can when you can when you want and also set stuff on fire--that usally works out or at least generates a few chuckles.

    Sparrow judge judged your sparrows highly, both in aesthetics and existential objective worth.

    Nice to hear from you again Big Red