There is a popular internet trope that as you age, your interest in birds goes up. I’ve found that to be true in my own life as well. For years I’d wanted to have a decent camera to go take pictures of birds and a little over a year ago I finally convinced myself that the cost would be justified by the additional exercise I would get. I’m not sure the additional exercise has made a difference but at least it was a good excuse at the time to do something I’d been wanting to do for years.
I purchased a used Canon T8i and a new Sigma 150-600 mm lens. Neither is top of the line but I figured they would be good enough for my purposes. I briefly entertained the idea of selling stock photos to generate a little money from the camera (still trying to justify the expense to myself, I feel like this says something about my world view). What I quickly discovered through a bit of research however is that no one is interested in stock photos of birds and plants. Even if someone would have a need for a photo of a mockingbird, you’d be competing against 100,000 other photos of mockingbirds. The stock photos that seem to sell well are those of specific public buildings or landmarks that might come up in a news story. Since I had no desire to photograph such mundane things in hopes of making a few dollars, I abandoned this idea.
From Finding to Feeding
Sometime last year I read, One Wild Bird At A Time by Bernd Heinrich. Heinrich spent years observing the behavior of wild birds and cataloging information about them. At times his actions directly impacted the birds in negative ways which I found unsettling. He recalls a time when a pair of birds that don’t usually nest in his region built a nest anyway because of his bird feeder. Heinrich had created an unnatural food source…and then neglected to keep it filled and the baby birds died. That one section in One Wild Bird At A Time set me against using a bird feeder.
A week ago I watched Stefan Sobkowiak’s video on his Youtube channel about the importance of using bird feeders around your orchard for controlling pest insects because the birds, according to Sobkowiak, will find and eat the insect larvae as they hide seeds around the orchard. And just like that, my opinion on using bird feeders shifted again. I’ve added a small orchard over the past couple of years and I really do not want to use pesticides to control pests, so a natural method of keeping pest insects under control sounds great to me. I’m also hoping to be able to take some nice photos of birds from the comfort of my back porch as well (further eroding my exercise excuse for buying the camera).
So I did what any reasonable person would do after watching Sobkowiak’s video: I went on amazon and purchased three different bird feeders, a bird bath, and a small fountain for the bird bath. When my wife saw the boxes and asked how many bird feeders I’d purchased, I said “enough for all the birds.” The feeders have been up for less than a week but so far the birds haven’t shown much interest. Just this morning I had my first woodpecker though so that was encouraging.
Peace Like A River (or a bird)
There’s just something peaceful about watching birds, especially in the forest. So I’ll still be getting some of that exercise if I want to experience that. The way they flit this way and that. The way they sing and call to one another. I feel like part of the reason people develop an interest in birds as they age is because by a certain age, you’ve experienced all the busyness and craziness that life has to offer and one day you just decide that you need the quiet of the woods and the songs of the birds.
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?