The most rewarding part of birdwatching is that birds are a terrific distraction from the political craziness over the last few years.
I grab my camera, binoculars, mask, and notebook, turn off my phone, and head outdoors to see a new wildlife storyline play out before me.
No news, no COVID-19, just me in nature with the birds.
So when people ask me about my political views, I reply, “I’m just into birds.”
Nothing Political About Birds
Carly Simon puts it best, “The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.”
And there’s nothing political about the birds you enjoy watching.
Liking birds mean you’re into birds.
Red birds. Blue birds. No politics here because they’re just colors.
I love Northern Cardinals and my male cardinal that frequents my backyard I’ve affectionately dubbed, “Big Red.”
His name is no way is a political expression that I’m subliminally saying I’m Republican.
Another favorite of my backyard birds is a Blue Jay, and I call him “Big Blue.”
I know they’re not the most creative names, but the nickname doesn’t mean I’m a bleeding-heart liberal.
intoBirds Logo Features Our Favorite Bird
Take a look at the intoBirds’ logo, and you’ll notice it’s a Blue Jay.
There’s nothing subliminal there.
It’s not our intent to be the scourges of liberalism.
We find the Blue Jays to be fascinating birds.
And they’re one of our favorite subjects for birdwatching.
Jays are so incredibly smart, and we learn something new about these songbirds watching them every day and wanted a bird as our logo that was relatable to us being in the Northeast.
There’s no conspiracy there.
Bald Eagles Hold Special Meaning to Many
If an American Bald Eagle is your favorite bird, does that mean you’re more patriotic and more American?
No, it means you respect our national emblem, and let’s face it, Bald Eagles are magnificent.
There’s no bird more majestic soaring in the sky.
A Bald Eagle’s fierce beauty and independence symbolize America’s freedom and sovereignty, but these birds hold a significant spiritual meaning for Native Americans too.
Native Americans consider the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle to be sacred.
Eagles are the highest flying birds and are seen to be nearer to the Creator.
The Eagle symbol was meant to signify courage, wisdom, and strength, and its purpose was to be the messenger to the Creator.
Francis Mitchell, a Navajo medicine man, says eagles appear in many tribes’ creation stories, and they are revered because of their strength, boldness, and courage to withstand any obstacles.
“When it’s soaring above, and when it notices you, an eagle will sometimes make a complete circle,” he says. “When it does that, it’s anointing you with good blessings, good tidings. Eagles represent strength, protection, and, above all, good wisdom.”
Joy of Birdwatching is Colorful Migratory Birds
Some of my favorite avian friends are birds that migrate to New York in the spring from warm climates thousands of miles away.
Migratory birds are one of the joys of backyard birdwatching.
It’s a thrill to see what new avian friends drop by every year.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the smallest migrating bird, but are quite fierce and won’t stand for being bullied by bees or other high-flying backyard birds.
Does that mean I don’t think big, choosing the tiniest migratory bird as one of my favorites?
Of course not. Everyone loves a tiny version of bigger things like babies, kittens, puppies, and chicks.
It’s exciting watching them navigate through the backyard perching on the smallest branch sprig.
Hummingbirds can’t walk or hop, and it’s fascinating watching them use their tiny legs to move sideways while they perch.
If you get close enough, you can feel the breeze when they fly by.
Another favorite migratory bird is the Scarlet Tanager.
Yes, another red bird.
But please don’t punch my ticket to the Republican National Convention yet.
Red is just a color, and the Scarlet Tanager wears it incredibly well.
Male Scarlet Tanagers are so bright and vibrant with a stunning red body and black wings and tails they seem too exotic for northeastern woodlands.
But my year of birdwatching is not complete without the return of my backyard Gray Catbird I’ve affectionately named Luigi.
It’s a joy watching Luigi raise his family in my pear trees, and I’m already dreading when he leaves in the fall.
I worry about all the migratory birds, especially those impacted by the border wall.
Border Wall Disrupting Environment
Just because birds have wings don’t think the construction of the border wall out west isn’t having severe consequences for birds and disrupting the environment.
I’m not talking like a never-Trumper, I’m speaking like a person into birds and wildlife.
Some birds can’t fly over the 30-foot wall, and the border wall disrupts the natural movement of wildlife like turtles, jaguar, and bighorn sheep.
Birds that stay close to the ground, like the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, a fierce, fluffy owl now has a new threat: barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to the Audubon, the border wall region, stretching across four U.S. states and the Rio Grande is incredibly biodiverse and is home to bird species that are already threatened or endangered.
“We’re disturbing a hundred meters around the wall-but the effects are much larger. When you disrupt the movement of critters across the wall, you potentially influence these populations at really large scales,” says Aaron Flesch, a biologist at the University of Arizona’s Desert Lab.
If you follow the news, then you know that the Trump administration plans to complete at least 1000 miles of the border wall, and that would nearly double the number of physical barriers cutting through these ecosystems.
And that means trouble for birds at the border, and those just passing through.
Red state, blue state. It doesn’t matter when you think about the destruction of wildlife.
It’s all just wrong.
We Need to Be Like Birds and Coexist
As I sit here birdwatching in my backyard during this COVID-19 quarantine, I see my usual backyard birds like the Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Blue Jays, and American Goldfinch welcoming the migratory birds joining them at the feeders.
The Indigo Buntings, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are welcome guests as my year-long backyard birds perch side-by-side their migrant friends.
There is no wall separating the migratory birds from the resident birds.
Some birds are bigger than others, have enormous beaks, and are rich, vibrant exotic colors.
But the backyard birds don’t see those things, and they all just coexist.
They continue to warn each other of threats, such as birds of prey and fly off together in solidarity seeking a safe refuge.
Every living thing understands the language of survival.
But with the birds, there’s no judgment as there is plenty of bird food to go around.
As soon as one bird jumps off the feeder, their spot is quickly taken up by another, and life goes on for the backyard birds.
It’s all about coexisting together and watching each other’s back against predators looking to eat you alive.
Humanity can undoubtedly learn a lot from watching the birds.