Mindfulness & gratitude in bird-watching

There is a moment, when watching a bird, when everything else falls away and there is nothing in the world but you and that bird. Worries are forgotten. Hunger, cold, heat, rain are not felt. You are in tune, in harmony, with a little feathered creature and their habitat and you let it fill you up.

Joe Harkness said it best in his book Bird Therapy:

“… I had also started to recognise just how positive I felt when I was immersed in the world of birds. My worries seemed to fade into insignificance and when I was feeling stressed, if I counteracted it with some time outside, watching them, it drifted off like birds do, in a stiff breeze.”

This is the real reason I love watching birds. It took me a few years to realize what I was doing was a form of mindfulness. A moment where your attention is focused on nothing but the present. To seek a connection, no matter how fleeting, with another creature. and pull me out of myself and into the world around me.

It’s a wonder that such a small thing can make such a difference, a little thing with feathers. Birds have brought me so much joy since I started to really become aware of them and they were there when times were low. They are beautiful and charismatic, funny and entertaining, fascinating and full of surprises. I am grateful and love every one; the brightly-hued migrants, the little brown birds, the fierce raptors and the tiniest songbirds. Here’s to you, every member of the Aves class, but especially the ones who’ve graced me with their presence over the years and more recently.

This is my second ever independently seen/identified Western Tanager seen today! I first noticed an unfamiliar bird sound and he was kind enough to perch at the top of this tree.
Osprey were the first birds that really got me seriously interested in bird-watching when I noticed their nest where I worked. It’s been a passion ever since and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Osprey will always have a very special place in my heart.
Marsh Wrens may look drab, but any kind of wren is a favourite bird of mine! Their very loud chatter belies their small size and seeing them is always extra special because they are so hard to spot among the reeds and grasses.
Song Sparrows may be considered another boring brown resident bird to some, but to me, they are absolutely gorgeous and some of the most photogenic birds of all time with the varied coloring of their plumage, not to mention their impressive breadth of vocalizations.
Mallard ducklings are so common around city ponds and parks in the springtime, but that does not make them any less special or adorable to my eyes! Ducklings (and all baby birds and animals) are one of the best things about springtime.
Brown Pelicans are not a bird I see very often, but I saw quite a lot of them flying back and forth along the coast yesterday, including some very impressive up-close views as they drifted by on out stretched wings, flapping only occasionally and skimming across the water’s surface.
Purple Martins are also some of my favorite birds (though once I start choosing, its very hard to stop!). I don’t see them as often as I did in Victoria and I always loved their non-stop high-pitched chattering and their cartwheeling flight then, but somehow it is even more special when I do get to see them now.