Saturday, April 25, 2009

A slippery slope

That I am at least mildly obsessed with natural history is well established. I relish opportunities to watch the various types of macrofauna I might encounter, whether in the wild or at a zoo.

Lisa's fear: "Honey, I'm afraid you're becoming a birder."

I'm not a birder, I'm a guy who likes to watch birds. But I acknowledge that I'm on a slippery slope.
  • I now own two books which cover the identification and basic natural history of the birds of the Hawaiian Islands (more on the book problem later)
  • I may start to attend Chicago Audubon Society meetings - this is because they help manage the Forest Preserve site where I work
  • The prospect of starting a "life list" of critters I've seen in the wild has crossed my mind more than once
I recently bought a new camera (a Canon Powershot SX110 IS) and I'm completely in love with it. The optical zoom is fantastic. The photo at left shows the result of my first opportunity to play with the new camera: a northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) high up in a tree. I estimate the base of the tree was about 50 feet from me.

The picture was taken in late March at the Dwight Perkins Woods, a Cook County Forest Preserve District parcel in northwest Evanston. It's less than two miles from my home, but I had no idea it existed until very recently. Anyway, the Perkins Woods is a remnant of the "Big Woods" that once stood throughout Evanston.

Just last weekend, I went a little crazy at the Chicago Botanic Garden. I got a few fantastic pictures of a common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) and an American robin (this familiar passerine is saddled with the unfortunate binomial Turdus migratorius).

Am I doomed to slide from "a guy who watches birds" to to "a birder?" Unless the City of Evanston establishes a slothpital or some kind of municipal tapir sanctuary, it seems likely that birds will become the primary source for my natural history fix. I'm going to write my alderman about that.

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