My Secret Shame

I was readin vanbytheriver last night, which was a fun little read about birds and love. It struck me as funny-odd that she didn’t know the birds in question were mourning doves, but then I had to mention in a family of birders, I never had the opportunity to not know which birds were which.

My parents are bird people. It’s true. When I was young, particularly in my teens, they’d drive me to eye-rolling craziness with all their talk of birds. It’s one of those things that always made me feel like I didn’t belong. Who the fuck cares about birds? They’d sit there with their bird books and talk about birds for hours. They’d argue over identification. They’d theorize about migration patterns. I’d sit there and think omg if my life is ever so boring that i need to look to birds for entertainment, just take me out and shoot me.

It was alright that my grandmother watched birds, because she lived on a lake and spent all her time staring out the window, but she was like 80 or somethin, and there wasn’t a lot for her to do…
I’d have better things to do before 80, but then maybe I’d get so bored, I’d watch birds, too. To have my parents doing it, well, it was intolerable.

The sheer amount of excitement my mother displayed over a hummingbird come to feed, I mean really, Get a Life!

 

 
My mother woke me once, definitely before noon, to go out and see the whoojiwhatsit spotted-winged blarg outside. I mean, really, was it not bad enough to drag me out to the woods, away from MTV and telephones?!?
“Oh my God, MOM, no one cares!”

I mastered the basics when it comes to birds — you know, robins, cardinals, doves, that sorta thing — but I had no desire to classify them by types or learn about rarer ones.

Me reading about Darwin’s birds:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dude, get out of the islands, you’re losin yer mind

 

 

One time, at our old Indianapolis home, circa The Baby Daze, hundreds of birds swooped in and took over our back yard as if Hitchcock had directed them to do so. At first it was neat. But the next day they were still there. It got weird and messy. It felt ominous. I couldn’t let the kids out. I called my mother to explain the horrors of nature come to roost in my metropolitan backyard.
You know what she asked me, right?
“What kinda birds?”

That moment you wish you’d paid attention.

birds1

Don’t you know Sissy had the same boring bird chats with my mother? Sissy didn’t think birds were boring at all, and so my mother had given her bird books. Sissy looked the birds up in her books and informed me they were tree swallows.

Moo’s the same. You ask me what kinda bird is in the tree, and I’m like, “Some sorta spotty finch-type thing,” and Moo’s all, “It’s the white-breasted nuthatch.”
(In truth, I know the white-breasted nuthatch, but I’m just sayin, she knows more than I do.)

 

 

Flash to me in Georgia, upset cause there were almost no birds around.
“Somethin wrong with this place. Ain’t no birds, nothin grows. God didn’t intend for people to live here, I tell ya!”
Then, gettin super excited when I saw birds I recognized! Mockingbirds and robins, mostly. But sometimes, somethin special in Savannah…
“Omaword! Look at all the wrens!” Y’all, I emptied a sleeve of crackers in the parking lot just to watch’em eat. It’s good for the children to have natural encounters, right?

 

Flash to me back home, watching MIL’s birds at the feeders, listening to learn as much as I could from her. But like, low-key interested…no big deal.
I totally didn’t care about the birds nesting in the wreath on the porch. I was not beside myself with glee, possessing nearly the awe of a child. I didn’t get giddy when I saw the babies had been born. Nah, not me. I have a life.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Just another thing in a long list of things taken for granted. Birds.

 

 
Now, at my own house, even though I’m not 80, I have squealed so loudly at a visiting hummingbird, I scared him off! I almost peed myself — he probably did, too.

I spend a great deal of time staring out my window.

view

 

 
Now and again, I grab the binoculars.
I feed the birds.
I try to get pictures of our cardinals.

cardinal.1

I stand feet from them, hoping they’ll let me look at them a little bit longer.
I listen to the songbirds.
Try to figure out which bird sings which song.
Noticing cardinals sound like R2D2…
Listen to warbler songs on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7LgVnI6v9M

I am only forty-three, and I enjoy the birds.

I say things to Sassy like, “Do you hear that? That’s a pileated woodpecker. Come see.”

I should be taken out and shot.

This is my secret shame.
My mother, she must be so proud.

 

 

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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92 Responses to My Secret Shame

  1. I have always loved watching the birds and now they come sit on branches near my sitting spot and sing to me. They all have unique calls and look different, but I only know the names of a few. Once, a long time ago, my sister and I were eating with my parents and looking at the shelf outside the window that had birdseed. She screamed (or probably gasped) “Oh, that’s a BIG bug.” My mother laughed, “It’s a hummingbird.”
    BTW, I heard the bird on the YouTube video so you must have fixed the glitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. orbthefirst says:

    I do pay attention to the birds, if only to watch them get chased off by other birds. Crows are good for this sort of entertainment, as wrens, and a few others will try to chase them off if they get too close. And the eagles, well, theyll chase off just about anything (I can usually tell when ones around as the little ones go quiet,) except the other bigger birds…
    And the cranes. I like to go to the end of the park here and watch the cranes wander the marsh when its warmer out.
    And sometimes, if Im still long enough (which is fairly often, if Im out watching life..) the little ones will land on a rail nearby, or come to chatter at me in my tree..
    So..yea. Birds. Goddamn birds. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      I sense the conflict of your bird enjoyment, and I approve 😛
      We’re fortunate not to see much in the way of bully birds. I presume they prefer the back 40, or maybe it’s because of our animals… either way, it’s cool.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My mother is into them too. It’s not uninteresting, but when she stops mid telephone call to tell me about something that landed on her deck it’s kind of maddening. Then she tries to describe it for me. It’s one of those “you had to be there” moments I think. I usually like the ones nobody else loves, like buzzards. Oh, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, I like that too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ha ha…I love this, your shame…indeed. I remember being terrified by the Hitchcock film, yet still respected and appreciated the birds. Except for a Biology teacher in 9th grade who had us walking around the hood to i.d. those puppies, I never paid a lot of attention to the different species. I knew the usual suspects…robins, crows, cardinals, blues and blacks…but not too many others.

    Thanks for sharing my post, and for your “not-so-old-lady” pursuits. Keep looking out ! 💗 💖 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pluviolover says:

    You bored? Not even at 80.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dan Antion says:

    I guess I fall somewhere between you and Moo. I don’t know all the types and sub-types and stuff, but I have always enjoyed watching birds. I talk to them, and I try ever so hard to get pictures. My wife knows way more than I do and she gets better pictures. I know that I have enough birders among my readers that if I put up an unknown suspect, someone will give me the ID.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love birds too and sometimes staring out the window at nature in my yard. And it has nothing to do with my age or anybody’s age. Some people just like (love) nature. I have loved nature for a long time. I haven’t gotten into identifying them but like to check it out especially when I hear a different bird song or see a flock of migrating birds in my front or back yard.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve said it before, birds all look about the same to me. I’ve made mistakes on my blog when I’ve misidentified a bird in one of my photos, only to be corrected by people all over the world.

    That being said, I take your point about how boring things parents did have a weird way of drifting into adult life. For me that topic would be history. My parents were nutty about it, dragging me all over the state to see dull historical sites. I used to hate it. Of course now, as a fascinating adult, I point to historical markers and places on the map because I know all about the “interesting” history associated with each spot. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Yes, I once posted a photo of a hawk on my FB and people fought over its identity to the point of name calling and whatnot. People take these things very seriously.

      I’m glad you understood my point about parents. I often fear people must be skimming, or that I have lost my ability to write. :/ Some of the comments at times…
      History is grand 🙂 I’m glad you’ve had stuff rub off on you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ally Bean says:

        Exactly about the bird thing. I had people who only comment on the blog once every 2 years show up to tell me how wrong I was. Over a bird, of all things!

        [You’re writing is fine, people skim– or get interrupted mid-reading, then forget where they are in the story. It happens. My philosophy is to smile at the odd comment, and just say thank you.]

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ally said, “, people skim– or get interrupted mid-reading, then forget where they are in the story. It happens.” That’s me! 😵 I really appreciate those “thank you’s” 😌

          Liked by 3 people

        • joey says:

          Yes, say thanks, and then smile and wave 😉 LOL
          Sometimes, I just can’t even. I’m guessing if they make comments indicative of not having read, then they’re not the type who’ll notice my lack of reply?
          But you know, sometimes I miss comments. I’ve been doing this thing where I go back each week and check — and I always find some. :/

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Anxious Mom says:

    My grandmother was a bird person, too. She’d always have the feeders out, look with her binoculars. I couldn’t have cared less, either. But now I do carry on the hummingbird feeder tradition just because of her, one of those little things that makes me feel a little closer to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ahhh, aren’t you adorable. I can only WISH my parents were birders. I see you saw my Kingfisher photobombing me a post ago, too. Sometimes I get nightingales, at least I guess because they sing at night. And now I’ve listening to your link and birds from outside respond. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Josh Wrenn says:

    I don’t care what most types of birds are, bit I do enjoy them, especially ones I don’t always see close like hummingbirds or when there’d be a cardinal on our lawn.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ROFL!! I think I’m somewhere between your parents and you. I love birds. I try to take photos of them, and have lost my mind trying to ID them! I’ve bored my kids to death with bird stuff.
    #1 Grandson is picking it up though! That’s exciting.

    I’m also guilty of dragging my kids out into the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night to freeze their little tushes off to see meteors, and comets. I wonder if they’ll ever look at a House Finch and think, “Oh that’s a male House Finch” , or go out meteor spotting?

    I was tickled pink not long ago when Baby Girl sent me a text saying, ” go outside and look at the Moon Mom! It’s GORGEOUS!” I was a proud Mama! 🙂 I am waiting for the day she says, ” Mom look at that Sparrow” or something.

    You know we don’t have Cardinals out here in California? How I love to see images of them, and hope to see one in real life one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne Sisco says:

      You don’t have Cardinals?!! Is it because you’re too far south, or is it an east/west thing?

      It’s one of the very few birds I can actually ID correctly. Those noisy little brats like to wake up the neighbourhood at 4 am in the summer. They seem to travel in packs … a few days ago there were 6 in the backyard. For obvious reasons, they stick out in the winter 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      Oh that’s so nice! See, I wasn’t receptive, either, but my mother got to influence two of my daughters, and that IS somethin.
      I do the moon thing. I don’t think my family loves the moon like I do. Maybe I’ll have a grandkid who does? 🙂
      Don’t see much in the way of sky things here, otherwise. Don’t even see much of the stars here in the city.
      Male house finches are so pretty, and I can never id the female, cause she looks like so many other birds! Read: Brown spotty finch thing 😉
      I did NOT know that about cardinals. Cardinals are our state bird. (And my college mascot, Chirp-Chirp!)

      Your pictures are fab, keep snappin! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Benson says:

    As far as “shames” go that is a pretty tame one. It is cool that you know birds. I know the common ones but the nuthatches and the red breasted thing a bobs are beyond me. I do like Hummingbirds. They’re freaky. I also remember when I saw my first road runner. Damn thing is small, not at all like the cartoon. Happy bird watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I like to watch the birds comming into the garden and we do feed gthem, but I hardly know what any of them are! Mr Grump does though. I am sorry to say that I am like that about flowers too. Although I love them, I do not know what half of them are called! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. marianallen says:

    I was like “birds, schmirds.” But — and you need your hankie for this one — my Mom loved to feed the birds and watch them eat and look them up and identify them. She would point them out to me and tell me what they were and how to tell this one from that one. Then she started on her mild dementia. And one day, she said to me, “I wonder what kind of birds those are.” And I told her. Okay, *I’M* cryin’ now. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  16. loisajay says:

    My son is a birder, also. Loves ’em. Knows ’em. I call him and say, “Hey I saw this bird today…….” He knows what kind it is. Amazing stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The squeal? The peeing of pants? I get that.

    My parents were not birders, so why the copy of Audubon’s Bird’s of North America on the shelf? Oh, how I would study that book.

    I can actually recall, sitting here, and typing to you, the exact moment when I first laid eyes on a cardinal. It was a Boy-dee-bird (as opposed to Lady-bird,or Baby-bird) singing his heart out atop of the neighbour’s TV antenna. The scarlet red was a dead give-away.

    I’ve been a birder most of my life, yet I cannot explain, other than the book, how I got that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      It’s just part of who you are, I’m sure. Like people who just know how to play instruments or sew or whatnot. Is good. You’re very nature-oriented anyway, so it seems to fit.
      Cardinals are so vivid, and I love how they’re here all year, but dang they’re hard for me to catch with an iPhone!
      Now when I see the hummingbirds, I try to scream inside, try not to breathe! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  18. JoAnna says:

    It sounds like you are ahead of your time and making excellent progress. I did not get bored for one second reading this. In fact, it was great fun! I do worry about birds nesting in the wreath on our door or in hanging plants where our coonhound could catch the fledglings. Many years ago, we raised what I think was a brown thrasher from a baby who fell out of it’s nest. It hung around for a couple days when we let it go After if flew away, I thought I saw another bird of it’s kind feeding it. Fortunately we did not have the coonhound then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Aw, yeah, the bird dogs can be a real threat. :/
      That’s awesome how you raised a baby one!
      Yes, see, that’s a new perspective, I’m making excellent progress! What a wonderful way to look at it! Thanks for the lovely compliment — I really appreciate that! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I had Bee Balm planted for the hummingbirds – they love it, and I get to watch them. If I had more energy, I’d get them one of those fountains for bathing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Bee balm! 😀
      I have had two birdbaths and I have had two broken birdbaths. I need somethin heavy duty, with a post that goes deep into the ground. (ie $$$) I tell you what though, on a hot summer day, they’ll bathe in garden buckets or kiddie pools just the same! lol

      Like

  20. ghostmmnc says:

    Cool that you wrote about birds! I’ve had an interest for years. My parents did, too. Every time I see one a little different, I run get the bird book. One year I even took part in the backyard feeder project from Cornell, where you keep a log for awhile to send in. It’s fun to identify them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I recognize all the calls of a cardinal. I can’t name many beyond the obvious ones. But I do enjoy watching them. 🙂 Yesterday, I sat on the back porch, in the sunshine, and watching them land in random spots around the yard. Yay for spring! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. meANXIETYme says:

    My grandfather was a bird watcher. He had a great big giant old bird book that he kept in his living room, which was where the big huge sliding glass doors and all the windows were to the backyard. That’s where he had multiple feeders and he knew every bird in his yard. One of my brothers has picked up the hobby and he actually has a “bird garden” where he tries to attract all sorts of birds. He used to sit with my mom and point out all the birds in her backyard or that flocked to the many bird feeders he helped her hang. Unfortunately, that giant old bird book is MIA and no one knows what happened to it. I swear my brother has it somewhere but HE swears he does not. 😦

    I know about the pileated woodpeckers (we have two!) and of course robins and blue jays and cardinals and blue birds…we even have several kinds of hawks and some owls. Anything other than that, I snap a picture and send it to the “bird brain” (my brother) and say “what’s that one?”. But I don’t generally spend time looking for them or staring out the windows at them, it’s only if I happen to see them. I’m not much of a bird person…to me they’re kind of messy and Butthead likes to chase them and bark at them, so I’d rather they flock to my parents’ house and eat their food there.

    But I get what you’re saying, since there have been many “bird brains” in my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. darsword says:

    Wow, you got a lot of comments here! 😀

    The shame of what parents stood for or were gah-gah about, I get that and am in receipt of that now. Twenties music, really! 24-7 in church. Camping three weeks every summer. I grew to love the outdoors in spite of them. I learned to appreciate a bit of their music as a music major. Still can’t handle much church. But they knew little about birds. Dad could talk to the blue jays, does that count? Yeah, embarrassing but we were in the middle of nowhere so it was tolerable.

    I have friends who are birders and I get a little jealous that they know that much about our feathered friends.

    We daily feed the visiting covey of quail and starlings take over after the quail leave. Quail are so fun to watch. My brother saw one emerging from the snow under a bush and we learned that is where they like to be. Crazy little birds. It’s amazing they live. They have wings but rarely fly, they just run around.

    The reason I have to go with my dog when she goes outside are the hawks and bald eagles. She’d be a bit of a snack, I’m afraid. We also have coyotes who took off with the neighbor’s visiting hens. They had finally started laying us an egg or two.

    Who knew shame could bring so much outa people? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      I’m sorry I’m just now getting to your comment, but I do appreciate your commentary. I don’t see many quail here. Did in Georgia, though.
      I’d love to have chickens, but I do believe my dog would hunt them, as she hunts birds, geese, and ducks. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      • darsword says:

        Our house sits high so the porch has about 5 steps from the ground. When the quail are eating at the bottom of the steps and I let out Kali, she practically flies off the steps and the quail fly away. I wish I were fast with a camera/cell because with her long ears she looks like she is flying with them. She doesn’t seem like she want to catch them (I hope not) because she gets down to business and comes back in. The quail resume their positions. It is so funny to watch! My brother is talking about getting turkey. It will be interesting to see how Kali and turkey get along.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. kirizar says:

    I’ve gone barmy over flowers that way. Not that my parents were horticulturists, but, that surprising takes-your-mind-over interest that you never had before in your life experience. I’ve also added a cutesy bird feeder to my front yard only to be surprised the birds dissed it for the longest time. What gives? Free food in winter, I thought the feathered little blighters should be shivering with gratitude. Finally saw a cardinal this week and I spooked him trying to get my son interested in coming to take a look.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      It takes a while after you put up a feeder. The birds have to find it. This can be difficult if either your neighbors already feed them, or no one in your neighborhood does. Flowers and gazing balls are recommended.
      I’m glad you understand my self-surprise 🙂

      Like

  25. JT Twissel says:

    I’ve been over here in Hawaii for the past month and the birds conjugate in these magnificent trees – the banyan trees – by the thousands. The sound is absolutely heavenly. My grandmother – who was not an animal person at all – found great solace at the end of her life in a little robin who nested outside of her window at the retirement home.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’m sure your Mom is proud. 🙂 I love watching birds but never have taken the time to really differentiate anything but the basic ones. If your calendar goes forward 32 years, I’d propose you put a note to revisit this post then. Getting older is not something you grasp until you get there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Yes, well, can you imagine what I’ll have learned in the next 32 years? And then how much I will have forgotten? In and out, making room for what’s important. I had no idea I’d ever think birds would be important to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Laura says:

    I am only 46 and have recently discovered delight in the birds so I will share your secret shame. (And what a lovely view from your window!)

    Liked by 1 person

  28. reocochran says:

    Aww, I actually wasn’t crazy about birds while growing up. My Grandpa taught me about birds, for which I did listen but showed less enthusiasm than I could have. Birds are on my list of the ten best things ever, now. The sky is up there, of course, family is best of all! The part about going outside and walking and listening is part of who I have become, Joey. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Matt Roberts says:

    This one time Jen and I were driving around and we passed by this lake at an apartment complex. There were 5 or 6 white swans swimming happily in the lake. Jen says, “There aren’t swans in Ohio!” I looked at them in the lake, then at her, then at them in the lake. She said, “Shut up.”

    Liked by 1 person

  30. My grandmother tried to teach me about birds. I wished I would of been paying attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. J Walters says:

    Beautifully done. I live on Georgian Bay, so I get the big birds – herons, cormorants, Canada geese, ducks. It’s easy to identify those. I never have a clue what the smaller ones are except for cardinals, blue jays, robins and so on. It was a pleasure to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

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