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Baby’s first twitch

February 15, 2010
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I’ve been lax about taking Noah birding lately.  Not because I haven’t wanted too or because he’s not a good birding baby,  but because I’ve been uncomfortable exposing someone to cold weather who’s as yet unable to tell me if he’s getting too cold.  Hopefully, when things begin to thaw out around here, we’ll be back at our old stomping grounds adding to his burgeoning life list. But occasionally events conspire to get him out with me even now.

Birders in North Carolina have been anxiously awaiting the state’s first Varied Thrush for some time. The species has been noted in all surrounding states and has been a long-time leader on most birders’ “Next Official State First” list (a record in 2005 without photos had it placed on the provisional list).  As it turns out, 2010 has been the year we’ve been waiting for and starting right at the beginning of the year a Varied Thrush was photographed just south of the triangle, and a month later another was found and photographed.  Varied Thrush has a reputation as a one-day wonder and true to form, neither bird stuck around.  Needless to say, state listers have been on edge since.  So when a bird was discovered this past weekend, not 20 minutes from my house, that appeared to be somewhat regular, I was right there with them.

There was only one problem though.  My wife had to work that day, so I was the baby-watcher and everyone knows that baby-watching and twitching rarities are not necessarily mutually compatible activities, especially if the bird in question is not necessarily a predictable individual. What to do, then?

Well, obviously you take him along.

After a nap and some lunch, I packed all of the baby paraphernalia one needs to travel with an infant and headed out, in the hopes that I’d timed it so that Noah would fall asleep in the car on the way there.  He didn’t, but I have to say he was a pretty accomplished twitcher, as his patience lasted about an hour so long as I was playing with him (though my eyes often wandered to the feeders where the bird was seen).  He did seem to be more interested in the other assembled birders, striking up a conversation (limited, as his vocabulary is generally restricted to “da da da da” and ACK!)  with an older couple to pass the time before finally falling apart.

I’d like to think his ultimate protestations had more to do with the bird’s eventual no-show than anything else, but I appreciated that he felt comfortable expressing what I held in and that he apparently understands the heartache of the dipped bird at a young age.  It’s a good sign that he takes these sorts of things seriously, I figure.

Though with that in mind I’ll probably hold off telling him that the bird was found again, a few houses down the street, the next day.  No need to put him off completely this early.  After all, he’s got plenty of birds to miss in his life.  Like father, like son.

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9 Comments
  1. February 15, 2010 7:35 am

    Ha! Dad’s eyes.
    That’s the problem of many young birders his age: Dads won’t understand them!
    I am positive half his “da da da”s and “Ack”s meant “Dad, why don’t we try the feeders a few houses down the street? I have a gut feeling the thrush will be there.”

    Oh, the frustration must have nearly killed him!

  2. February 15, 2010 10:02 am

    I agree with Jochen’s translation…

    Can’t wait to get Desi out on his first twitch, though, as you can imagine, the cold up here in NY is a bit colder than in NC.

  3. Nate permalink*
    February 15, 2010 2:03 pm

    @Jochen- You’ve probably got it. Now I know why he was so fussy when we left. He knew!

    @Corey- No joke. If I’m wary of the cold, I can’t imagine how you’re fighting it. Desi must really want to go birding.

  4. February 15, 2010 3:04 pm

    Yeek, NC didn’t already have Varied Thrush? Ouch. I’m glad to see that Noah is already showing good birder instincts by holding the handles of the scope case. Smart kid. 😉

  5. Nate permalink*
    February 15, 2010 4:01 pm

    @Jennifer- Nope, I think we were the last state on the east coast to get one. Even South Carolina had four before all of these showed up in NC this winter. It was provisionally accepted in 2005, but not official till this year.

    And yeah, I’d say his instincts are pretty good, though he has this issue with grabbing at the lenses of my binoculars.

  6. February 15, 2010 8:39 pm

    hee hee..better he do the crying than you..
    He is adorable …
    Look forward to more Dad…son birding..

  7. February 17, 2010 9:29 am

    You know, I keep trying to read this but can’t get beyond the photo. If he isn’t the cutest little guy ever…

  8. February 17, 2010 11:46 am

    Sounds like you had a fun day even if you didn’t see your bird. Your little guy will soon be spotting birds with you-good to get them started young.

  9. Nate permalink*
    February 17, 2010 1:14 pm

    @Dawn- Thanks! There’s always more to come.

    @Jason- Thanks! He is cute. And with me as his father I’m not entirely sure how that happened.

    @CE- I hope he does. My eyes aren’t getting any better.

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