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Baby back in the field

April 12, 2010

Problem:  Migration is on the verge of blowing up all over the place and I have only limited time to enjoy it.

Problem:   I have a wife who expects me, not entirely unjustifiably, to help out with baby-watching duties on a regular basis.

Solution: Baby goes birding!

Now that birds and temperatures are warming up and I’m practically twitching in anticipation of what can only be a super influx of migrants to the area, I have to find a way to see those migrants without making my wife a birding widow and my son a birding orphan.  I have two weekend days and I pretty typically want to take advantage of both free mornings.  Back in the fall I got into the habit of taking Noah out with me on birding trips in the Baby Björn, which was a pretty good way of accommodating both of the often mutually exclusive notions of birding and being a good husband and father.

But Noah is way too big for a Baby Björn now, at least, he’s too heavy to be strapped onto my chest without the potential for serious back issues on my part.  So this spring I decided he was finally big enough to try the backpack that we’d gotten as a baby-warming gift.  He can sit behind me a chill while I have my arms and binoculars free to look at all the birdies I want.  We tried it out around the neighborhood on Saturday for the big unveiling, and I have to say, he took to it like a duck to water.

So feeling confident that I could get out in the field with my tiny jockey, yesterday morning I took a quick run around Mason Farm.  The warblers were back, and along with the 7 species I spotted the day before at Eno River State Park with my friend Alex Capaldi*, I added a single singing Hooded and several Palm Warblers to end the weekend at just under 10.  Not bad for the second week of April, and a total that should only get better as the month goes on.

The backpack itself is a Chicco Smart Support and this set-up is promising for several reasons.  One, the obvious freedom of movement it provides for me up front.  No longer do I have to lay my binoculars awkwardly alongside a sleeping baby.  Second, Noah enjoys looking around these days, so the forward orientation is appealing for him.  The backpack is a little difficult to get on and off by myself, but I managed well enough and it’s certainly simpler than the multi-step BabyBjörn in that I strap Noah in before it even gets on my back.  The whole set up is pretty light and comfortable.  I wore it for nearly two hours with no back or shoulder issues.

Noah, for his part, was as good a baby as you could want.  It was almost as if I was birding without child, which is the best you can possibly hope for.  Could it be my imagination, or is he starting to enjoy this birding thing?  Who knows.  What I’m certain of, however, is that this backpack is just the ticket for a productive spring for me, and a several relaxing weekend mornings for my wife.

Win-win-win, right?  And I might just tack on a few more wins for good measure.  That’s how good it is.


* Lousiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, plus Common Yellowthroat and Pine Warbler at a place I stopped later for those who are interested.

  1. April 12, 2010 7:12 am

    Nate’s got his baby back baby back baby back….Nate’s got his baby back baby back baby back…

    Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

  2. April 12, 2010 7:28 pm

    He’s a cutie, Nate! I predict lots of teenage girls taking up birding in about 12 years.

  3. April 13, 2010 6:39 am

    Ah, you are all set and safe this spring. However, he’ll soon want to walk … no … RUN around all the time and won’t sit still enough in the backpack for you to even think about rising your binoculars.
    This is when the stroller, or a follow-up model, will see its return. Or else you’ll be in trouble this coming fall season.

  4. April 13, 2010 7:11 am

    That’s pretty doggone cool, Nate. But Jochen’s right: enjoy it while you can because pretty soon he’ll have too much energy to be contained.

  5. Nate permalink*
    April 13, 2010 9:31 am

    @Corey- No comment….

    @Wren- Thanks! We’ll see if he’s even into it in 12 years!

    @Jochen- I’m feeling pretty good about this spring and you have to take me down a notch, huh Jochen? Most of the places we go would accommodate him running around looking at stuff so I’m not convinced that’s not a feature rather than a bug. But I suppose I should take the advice from one who’s been there, yeah?

    @Jason- It is cool. I’m definitely looking forward to this spring, he’s a lot more interactive than he was last year.

  6. April 14, 2010 1:58 pm

    @ Wren: But Nate will be a dirty old man then!

    @ Jochen: You sir are most correct. Try looking at Geese when the kid runs off into the middle of them or Screams at the top of their lungs because they are bored/hungry/tired/wet/stinky/thirsty/derranged/all of the above.

    @ Nate: Enjoy it while you can.

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